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Donald Trump as Businessman and U.S. President: How to Manage High-Stakes Conflicts of Interest

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 6:40
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In a matter of days after his being elected as President of the United States, Donald Trump decided to put his business empire in the hands of his children. As laudable as it is for a father to have such pride in his offspring, the conflicts of interest cannot be ignored. It cannot be pretended that the Trump Organization would be in a blind trust; nor, given the element of temptation that is “huge” in a conflict of interest, would it be wise to simply trust the new president to do the right thing. While a president’s business should not have to take a major hit, the notion that assuming public office is a duty should be sufficient to justify costs—even in terms of opportunities lost (i.e., opportunity cost)—arising as a result of the business being put in a blind trust. In the case of a business empire, whose properties are of course known to the future president, expunging any chance of conflicts of interest is prohibitive, if not unrealistic. So the task, I submit, is to do what can realistically be done while recognizing that conflicts of interest are inherently unethical—meaning that human nature should not be expected to stand up to the inherent temptation.

The full essay is at “Donald Trump: Conflicts of Interest.”

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