Clark, Democrats Introduce Bill to Require President and Vice President to Fully Divest Personal Financial Conflicts of Interest
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Democratic members of Congress introduced bills in the U.S. House and Senate that would require the President and Vice President to disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest. The Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act would require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from any specific matters involving the President's financial conflicts of interest that come before their agencies. The bill’s primary sponsors are Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), Richard Neal (D-MA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Peter Welch (D-VT), David Cicilline (D-RI). At the time of introduction, 82 members in the House have cosponsored this legislation.
Original co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate included Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
“The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in a global economy,” said Congresswoman Clark. “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.”
"President-elect Trump campaigned on the promise that he would 'drain the swamp' and put an end to self-dealing in Washington. Just days before he takes office, his actions speak louder than his words. Mr. Trump has failed to take even modest steps to resolve his conflicts of interest, let alone explain to the public how he will avoid using his office to his own financial benefit. If the president-elect will not act, it is imperative that Congress do so. I urge my colleagues in the majority to act on this important legislation without delay," said Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers.
"President-elect Donald Trump claimed last year he would hold a big press conference to explain to the American people exactly how he planned to resolve his vast conflicts of interest, but he never did it,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Both Republican and Democratic experts have warned repeatedly that President-elect Donald Trump must completely divest his ownership interests in his companies around the world and place the assets in a truly independent blind trust, or else he will breach federal contracts and violate the United States Constitution.”
“On January 20, Donald Trump will take the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States. At the appointed time, he will raise his right hand and swear to ‘Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ This legislation will ensure that President Trump will follow through on the requirements of this solemn oath,” Rep. Welch said. “The American people should have every confidence that actions taken by our new president are in the country’s best interest rather than his own.”
“The American people should always have confidence that their elected officials are acting only in the public interest,” said Congressman Cicilline. “This is especially true for the President of the United States and his appointees. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Clark and our colleagues today to improve transparency, enhance disclosure and divestiture requirements, and ensure that the President of the United States is always acting in our nation’s best interests.”
Full text of the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act can be found here.