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Republicans Vote Against Amendment Prohibiting Bills That Directly Benefit President Trump and His Businesses

Jan 24, 2017
Press Release

Republicans Vote Against Amendment Prohibiting Bills That Directly Benefit President Trump and His Businesses

 

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 24, 2017)—At a meeting today of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Republicans unanimously voted against an amendment offered by Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings that would have prohibited the Committee from passing bills that directly benefit President Donald Trump or his many businesses around the world.

“President Trump has refused to divest his personal businesses,” Cummings said.  “As a result, he has put himself and this country in a serious dilemma.  Each time the President acts, or makes a statement, or this body acts, there will be lingering questions—does that action benefit the country, or does it benefit the President’s personal finances?  This amendment’s goal is remove that question—at least for the actions of this Committee.  We want to remove any doubt that the actions of this Committee might be done in order to benefit President Trump or his vast business entities.”

In response, Chaffetz announced that he stood “in opposition” to the amendment, and all 20 Republicans present voted against the amendment to defeat it.

Last December, Cummings led Democratic Members in convening a bipartisan panel of Republican and Democratic ethics experts so the American people could hear directly about the challenges facing President Trump.  These experts strongly recommended that President Trump do what every previous president has done for decades—divest all ownership interests, liquidate his business assets, and place them in a truly blind trust operated by an independent party.

Yet, on January 11—nine days before he was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States—President Trump defied these warnings and announced that he would not relinquish ownership. 

“As of Friday, these conflicts moved from theoretical to reality,” Cummings said.  “Now, it falls to us in the Congress to do our job and ensure that these conflicts are thoroughly reviewed and addressed. Passing this amendment is an important first step in showing that we value the integrity of our own Committee.  This amendment is a statement that we act on behalf of the citizens of our great country, and not on behalf of the financial interests of one man. We may disagree on policy, but we share the common goal of serving the American public, not the financial interests of the President.”

Numerous Republicans and conservative outlets support the principle that the President has a duty to avoid conflicts of interest. For example:

  • While an attorney at the Department of Justice in 1974, Antonin Scalia wrote, “It would obviously be undesirable as a matter of policy for the President or Vice President to engage in conduct proscribed by the Order or regulations, where no special reason for exemption from the generally applicable standards exists.” 
  • Professor Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s ethics adviser, wrote in an op-ed, “As long as the president-elect is financially benefiting from his enterprises, every appointment and domestic and foreign policy decision he makes will confront the question of whether he acted to benefit the nation or his own pocket.  Moreover, counterparties will face irresistible temptation to benefit Trump’s enterprises so as to secure his action or win his favor.” 
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board warned, “If Mr. Trump doesn’t liquidate, he will be accused of a pecuniary motive any time he takes a policy position.”

Click here to watch Cummings at today’s meeting.

 

 

115th Congress