WASHINGTON ― The people President-elect Donald Trump picks to run his businesses must explain to Congress how they will prevent conflicts of interest from arising between those businesses and Trump’s official duties, a top Democrat said Monday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, made that statement in a letter to the committee’s Republican leader, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah). Trump has numerous financial interests that could be boosted by government, he added.
“We have never had a president like Mr. Trump in terms of his vast financial entanglements and his widespread business interests around the globe,” Cummings wrote in a request for scrutiny of Trump and his top advisers to ensure they follow all the laws barring official self-dealing.
He also noted that Trump has never produced the tax returns that would help the public understand his sources of income.
“Mr. Trump’s unprecedented secrecy and his extensive business dealings in foreign countries raise serious questions about how he intends to avoid conflicts of interest as president,” Cummings said.
Trump is expected to rely on his children to run his businesses, and Cummings pointed out that they are part of the government that is being formed because they’re members of Trump’s transition team. This is certainly not a “blind trust,” Cummings said.
A spokeswoman for Chaffetz did not immediately answer a request for comment.
Republicans have repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of conflicts of interest related to her family’s international charity arm, the Clinton Foundation. Chaffetz also has demanded information from the State Department about possible Clinton conflicts.
“Now that Republicans control the White House and Congress, it is incumbent on you and other Republicans to conduct robust oversight over Mr. Trump ― not for partisan reasons, but to ensure that our government operates effectively and efficiently and combats even the perception of corruption or abuse,” Cummings said.
Regardless of whether Chaffetz wants to conduct any oversight of Trump’s business interests, some details of his and his top administration officials will be available when they file financial disclosure forms and details of their investments.