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Elizabeth Warren Introduces a Bill to Deal with Trump's Conflicts of Interest
01/16/2017 Congress Seth L
keywords: Conflict of Interest

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has had a chip on her shoulder over incoming President Donald Trump for some time. And certainly, there's no love lost between Trump and Warren, as the former has referred to the senator as "Pocahantas" in reference to her self-proclaimed American Indian heritage.

Now, perhaps in retaliation for some of these remarks — and also as the leader of a charge against the president by Senate Democrats, Warren has introduced a bill, S. 65, that would force Trump, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, to divest any of their business holdings that could create a conflict of interest while they serve their terms in office. The holdings would be put in a blind trust administered by an independent trustee. Additionally, neither of them could simply turn their assets over to their spouses or children as Trump announced he would do at his first presidential press conference recently.

Warren's bill would formally implement the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits government officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments. Violations of this policy would be looked at as high crimes or misdemeanors that would be punishable by impeachment. Trump has more potential conflicts-of-interest than any incoming president in modern history, mostly related to his Trump Organization.

In a statement, Warren tweeted, "Americans deserve to know that the President is doing what's best for the country — not using his office to do what's best for himself. The only way for @realDonaldTrump to eliminate conflicts-of-interest is to divest his financial interests & place them in a blind trust."

Warren's bill has 23 other Democratic co-sponsors. In the House, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) introduced an identical bill, H.R. 371.

Both bills would also require Trump's government appointees to be disallowed from making any decisions related to the president's financial holdings. The bills would also require Trump to release his tax returns.

One of the reasons behind the bills is that current ethics laws don't apply to the president or vice president. Despite this, most previous presidents — including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush — have voluntarily placed their holdings in blind trusts.

In a statement, Rep. Clark said, "Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people. The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.”

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