President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief of staff, Reince Priebus, has vowed that White House counsel will ensure Trump avoids all conflicts of interest with his business ventures during his administration.
Last week, Trump held a meeting at Trump Tower with three Indian business partners building a Trump property south of Mumbai. His daughter Ivanka Trump, a vice president at the Trump Organization and one of the family members who will be in charge of Donald Trump’s businesses after he takes office, attended his meeting last week with the Japanese prime minister.
About 100 foreign diplomats met at the Trump International Hotel in Washington last week, and some of them viewed spending money at the president-elect’s hotel as an easy, friendly gesture, The Washington Post reported.
Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s “State of the Union,” cited these examples in an interview with Priebus on Sunday and asked: “As White House chief of staff, you’re supposed to look out for any political or ethical minefields. Is it seriously the position of the Trump transition team that this is not a huge cauldron of potential conflicts of interest?”
“Obviously we will comply with all of those laws and we will have our White House counsel review all of these things,” Priebus said. “We will have every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed, and I can assure the American people that there wouldn’t be any wrongdoing or any sort of undue influence over any decision-making.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, there is “no current legal requirement that would compel the President to relinquish financial interests because of a conflict of interest.”
Priebus called it a “truly unique situation” to have a president-elect with such international business interests. Trump “is now going to work toward focusing 24-7 on being president of the United States,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The Trump White House will set up a legal system to avoid conflicts of interest, Priebus said.
“All these rules are going to be followed,” he told host Chuck Todd. “There’s going to be no violation of any of these rules, I can assure you of that . . . As we move forward, those matters are going to be clearly spelled out, and you’re going to be aware of it.”
On CNN, Priebus addressed whether Trump would cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities on his first day, as he had promised.
Priebus said that the administration will explore the issue and “resolve some of these major problems happening all across the country” but that federal funding is a “matter of negotiation.”
“That’s something for the new administration to decide and something that we’re going to all be working on and looking into,” he said. “But as a general matter, I totally agree . . . the idea that a city would decide to ignore federal law, and then want the federal government to help them anyway, is an inconsistent position for those local governments to continue to engage in. And so I think this is a matter of negotiation.”