Will Trump’s Business Empire Distract Him From His Feuds?
A growing chorus of leading ethics experts and former White House advisers are speaking out against what they see as the unprecedented conflict-of-interest presented by President-elect Trump’s global financial empire, the running of which they say may distract the new president from the important day-to-day business of managing his ever-growing collection feuds.
Richard Painter, former chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush, noted that it was the common practice for presidents to put their business holdings into an independently-managed blind trust in order to allow them to pursue their vendettas using unchecked executive power and without distraction.
“When President Bush sought to use the war on terror to settle an unrelated family score with Saddam Hussein, he wasn’t bogged down with building deals and foreign subsidiaries,” Painter said. “Donald Trump has properties bearing his name in Turkey, there’s ground being broken in Saudi Arabia. Imagine if the Saudis had tried to play hardball with him, squeezing him for special treatment right in the middle of his feud with the cast of Hamilton. Can Mr. Trump honestly say that he would have been able to give a Twitter beef with entertainers all the time, attention, and energy it deserved while negotiating with a foreign government for his own enrichment?”
Other experts the Spigot consulted with agreed, noting that even Richard Nixon had divested his business assets before attempting to punish his extensive enemy list.
“It’s just a simple reality of petty vengeance: you can’t pursue it at the executive level while managing a global business empire,” one Washington insider, speaking on condition of anonymity told us. “Add to this that no president has ever had the sheer level of feuds as Donald Trump, nor the scope of business entanglements. It’s just unmanageable, and possibly unconstitutional.”
For his part, the president-elect continues to maintain as he had during the campaign that he will solve this problem by having his children manage the business side of things while he devotes himself completely to running his ongoing and growing collection of feuds against everyone and everything who has ever slighted him.
This claim does not dissuade critics, who note that it would be almost impossible for Trump to be completely insulated from business dealings when his own family is running things, leading to the possibility of new, business-related feuds arising that take focus away from his all-important personal feuds.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, responding to a question about the next president’s priorities on Fox and Friends, said that his “day job” of pursuing personal vengeance at the highest level imaginable would be “where the focus is”, a remark that was not as reassuring to some as she had intended.
“Day job? Does she think that being president is a 9-to-5? Trump is up tweeting some nights at 2, 3, and 4 in the morning, and he’s not even in office yet,” one expert said. “Come January 20th, he’s going to have a lot of campaign promises to keep: going after the women who reported him for assault and harassment, changing the libel laws to shut down his critics in the media, purging the military leadership. And all the while he’s picking new fights all the time?”
“A president’s feuds should not be his top priority, they should be his only priority.”