Ethics chief blasts ‘meaningless’ Trump business plan

Washington, Jan 12 : The head of the US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) slammed President-elect Donald Trumps plan to separate himself from his business, calling it “wholly inadequate” in resolving potential conflicts of interest.

“The plan the President-elect has announced doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every President in the last four decades have met,” OGE Director Walter Shaub said on Wednesday during a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective,” he said.

Shaub, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in January 2013, said the only way for Trump to avoid conflicts between his business empire and the presidency is to sell his assets and place them in a blind trust, The Hill daily reported.

“We can’t risk the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for professional profit,” he said.

Trump announced on Wednesday that he was handing control of his business empire to his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and placing his assets in a trust.

But the real-estate mogul said he would not be selling his company or real estate holdings.

While Trump is giving up control of his business, he would still have limited access to information, such as profit and loss statements, the daily added.

“This is not a blind trust, it’s not even close,” Shaub said.

The ethics office praised Trump in November when he first announced he would separate himself from his businesses. But since then, there has been an apparent breakdown between the two camps.

Trump has eschewed any help from the ethics agency, Shaub said, but his door is open should he want to revisit its plan for Trump’s businesses.

The OGE has helped structure ethics agreements with many of Trump’s nominees for Cabinet posts, including ones with complex business holdings like former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin and former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.


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