LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
NEWSCAST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

U.S. Ethics Official: Trump's Divestiture Is Hard, Pricy And Essential

The recently opened Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington is one of many properties that would lose the Trump name if the president-elect followed the advice of the Office of Government Ethics and divested his business holdings.

President-elect Donald Trump and his lawyer at a Wednesday press conference described the steps the real estate mogul would take separate from his business empire while in office. According to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Schaub, it wasn't nearly enough.

"The president is now entering a world of public service," Schaub said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "He's going to be asking his own appointees to make sacrifices. He's going to be asking our men and women in uniform to risk their lives in conflicts around the world. So no, I don't think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the president of the United States of America."

Trump said on Wednesday that among other moves, he would hand all management of his businesses to his sons, who would make no new foreign deals and would need an ethics review of any new domestic deals.

Divestiture would require him to go much further. It would mean the sale of all of the president's assets, with their value conveyed to a blind trust — and investment portfolio of which he and his family would have no knowledge or control.

Of course, no past U.S. president have had business holdings of the scale or complexity of the president-elect's. Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon said at the press conference that would make divestiture unworkable, NPR's Jackie Northam reported.

"The Trump brand is key to the value of the Trump organization's assets," Dillon said. "If Trump sold his brand, he'd be entitled to the royalties for the use of it."

And if the brand was mothballed entirely, the value of Trump's holdings would crater, and they would have to be sold off in a fire sale.

Nevertheless, that's what Schaub said needs to happen — both to completely safeguard against conflicts of interest, and to set an example.

"The ethics program starts at the top — the signals a president sends [set] a tone across the executive branch," Schaub said, adding that "officials in any administration need their president to show ethics matters, not only through words but through deeds."

The ethics official pointed to the steps undertaken by Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, whose separation from Exxon Mobil reportedly will cost the former CEO about $7 million.

"Mr. Tillerson's making a clean break from Exxon," he said. "His ethics agreement serves as a sterling model for what we'd like to see with other nominees."

Unlike the president, Schaub said, Tillerson worked closely with the ethics office to create his divestment plan.

And it's not just inside the government that the president's example matters, Schaub said. The ethics program run by the executive branch, including presidential divestment, has been viewed as a gold standard internationally, he said, with the office frequently consulting with governments in the developing world to set up similar programs.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)
contact@kansaspublicradio.org