When Donald Trump was voted in as the next US president there were immediately concerns regarding his business interests and potential conflict of interest. Donald Trump has a massive business empire but he also has an enormous property portfolio which spreads the globe. His recent decision to transfer control of his business empire to his sons did surprise many people and prompted a vicious backlash from the US Office of Government Ethics.
Donald Trump’s real estate assets
Historically US presidents have avoided potential conflicts of interest by disposing of their corporate assets and placing profits into a blind trust managed by a neutral trustee approved by the Office of Government Ethics. While Donald Trump had already flagged his intention to transfer ownership of his massive real estate and business portfolio to his sons, Walter Shaub (director of the Office of Government Ethics) has criticised the incoming president in public.
It now transpires that Walter Shaub has been trying to persuade Donald Trump to follow the traditional route for many months. Indeed the director also confirmed that there was no prior notice of Donald Trump’s recent announcement of a transfer of control to sons. When you bear in mind the enormous amount of real estate Donald Trump holds in the US and overseas many are concerned about conflicts of interest.
Is it wrong for Donald Trump to benefit while in office?
The incoming president is a businessman who has a chequered past to say the least having experienced bankruptcy and then risen from the ashes. He is a man who has been there, done it and has the T-shirt to prove it. So, as we have mentioned on numerous occasions, would the US people prefer a president who has little or no knowledge of the business world or somebody who has experienced both ends of the spectrum?
Only a number of days after his election win there were already rumours that Donald Trump had approached a high-ranking official in Argentina to clear some official permission for one of his investments. However, it is strange that nothing more was made of this if indeed there was anything behind the rumour?
Enough to do at the White House
While it is valid to question the business interests of any high-ranking politician especially the highest-ranking in the world, the President of the United States of America, surely he will have enough to do? The life and times of a US president are extremely hectic, unpredictable and seem to give little time for a private life. On that basis, while some of Donald Trump’s future policies could impact his business interest directly, he will not have time to man-manage his growing business portfolio.
At the end of the day, if in a worst-case scenario Donald Trump’s policies were to lead to a buoyant real estate market and a strong US economy in general, is this really so bad? Any direct benefits for Donald Trump would be dwarfed by the benefits to the US nation and US real estate market. Business entrepreneurs are often secretive and private but in reality all of Donald Trump’s interests and actions will be played out in the public arena – under intense scrutiny from day one.