President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that he would be leaving his "great business" so he could "fully focus on running the country" -- adding that he is not "mandated under law" to do so, despite calls that potential conflict of interests could violate the Constitution. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he plans to leave his business "in total" in order to focus on the presidency, though he is not "mandated under law" to do so.
Trump, who has been questioned since winning the presidency over potential conflicts of interest with his expansive business empire, said via Twitter that he will hold a press conference Dec. 15 in New York City where he will discuss his business plans.
"I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump tweeted. "While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The presidency is a far more important task!"
One of Trump's options is to put his assets into an independent blind trust. Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats on Tuesday introduced a resolution to request Trump put his assets in "simple, conflict-free holdings" and blind trusts managed by an independent trustee.
Under the proposed resolution, if Trump does not convert his assets or he does not take a similar measure, Congress would consider transactions between Trump's companies and foreign governments as potential violations of the Constitution, which states:
"No person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state."
The Senate proposal over the blind trust is led by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.
"The American public has a right to know that the president of the United States is acting in their best interest," Cardin said. "Not because he or she has received some benefit or gift from a foreign government like Russia or China or any other foreign governmental entity."
During his campaign, Trump said he would place his business holdings into a blind trust in which his oldest three children -- Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric -- would be in charge.
Politico reported earlier this month that under the legal definition of a blind trust, a public official would need to place his finances under the management of an independent party. The public official would not know what is within the trust or how it is managed. Some critics argued Trump's children would not constitute an independent party and that he wasn't doing enough to distance himself from the business dealings.
After he won the election, Trump appeared to soften his stance on whether his business dealings would represent a conflict of interest -- and whether it even mattered.
"Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!" Trump tweeted on Nov. 21.
During an interview with The New York Times on Nov. 22, Trump said the "law's totally on my side" as it relates to conflicts of interest and ethics.
"The president can't have a conflict of interest," Trump said. He added that he would "like to do something" to separate his business from his governmental work, but if his critics had their way, he wouldn't even be able to interact with his children.