Trump Says He’s Stepping Out of His Business Empire

President-elect Donald Trump (Reuters/Mike Segar)
President-elect Donald Trump (Reuters/Mike Segar)

WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’s leaving his business empire to focus on being the nation’s 45th president, bowing to pressure to avoid potential conflicts of interest between governing and profiting in the private sector.

“I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to make America great again,” he wrote in a series of early morning posts. “While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

He said legal documents are “being crafted which take me completely out of business operations,” he added, saying the presidency is “a far more important task!”

Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, was vague Wednesday in describing how the president-elect planned to separate himself from his businesses, saying “that’ll all be worked out.”

Priebus told MSNBC that Trump has “got the best people in America working on it.” Priebus demurred when asked if Trump planned to put his businesses in a blind trust — as presidents have traditionally done — or leave them in his children’s hands.

“I’m not ready to reveal that really,” Priebus said.

Priebus added that Trump’s business acumen and the many interests he has as a result of it are “nothing to be ashamed about.” He said the country hasn’t seen a president with such business holdings before and the rules and regulations “don’t contemplate this scenario.”

Later Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior adviser, said that his adult children are expected to take more control of his business empire.

Conway told The Associated Press, “The three adult children who do already work in the corporation are expected to continue in those roles and in fact increase their responsibilities in those roles.”

Conway said the specific transition plan would be announced at a Dec. 15 press conference.

Meanwhile, former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s former campaign finance director, confirmed that Trump has picked him as treasury secretary and that billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has been chosen for commerce secretary.

Mnuchin, 53, led Trump’s finance operations during the presidential campaign. He has no government experience. If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin would play a central role in shaping Trump’s tax policies and infrastructure plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with implementing international economic sanctions.

Speaking to reporters in Trump Tower Wednesday, Mnuchin said that federal spending on roads and bridges will be a “big priority for the administration.”

Mnuchin said that the country needs infrastructure that is “built for the 21st Century.”  He said that the administration will work with Congress to figure out how to pay for this effort, and that funding options include some public-private partnerships.

Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that he and Ross are “thrilled to work for the president-elect and honored to have these positions.” He said “sustained economic growth” is the chief priority of the incoming administration and that “we can absolutely get to sustained 3 to 4 percent” in the gross domestic product.

He also outlined what he called “the largest tax change” since President Ronald Reagan — cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, a “big” middle-class income tax cut and simplifying taxes.

“By cutting corporate taxes, we’re going to create huge economic growth and we’ll have huge personal income,” Mnuchin told CNBC.

Trump owns golf clubs, office towers and other properties in several countries. He holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies. He has struck licensing deals for use of his name on hotels and other buildings around the world and has been landing new business in the Middle East, India and South America.


Updated Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 12:04 pm