We may look back on this week as the moment when Donald Trump effectively declared he does not care about his financial conflicts of interest and nor does he plan to meaningfully address them. He first canceled a scheduled press conference to address the matter. (“Busy times!” Trump tweeted, by way of explanation, though he did have time to host Kanye West, Anna Wintour, and Omarosa at Trump Tower since Monday).
Trump also tweeted that his two sons will be running the Trump Organization in his absence:
Presidency. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them. No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2016
This leaves the public to guess what financial interest and legal authority Trump will continue keep in his company (presumably all of it), whether he intends to return to running his business, and enjoying its newfound profits, once he is no longer president, and how there will be any meaningful separation between the president and his corporation when two of his children make all the decisions. Only 24 hours later, Trump found a highly visible way to declare there will be no attempt to isolate his children from the business of the presidency. Trump hosted a roomful of Silicon Valley titans on Wednesday, whose companies are collectively worth $3.1 trillion. In that room were people who controlled a substantial chunk of the US economy, and who all have vital regulatory entanglements with the federal government. Also sitting at the table—Don and Eric Trump:
Those who Trump has said will be running his businesses are sitting in on meeting with business leaders and soon-to-be sr govt officials. pic.twitter.com/DauignTaE7 — Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) December 14, 2016
Don Jr. even tweeted that he was “Honored to have sat in on this meeting.” In the brief remarks the press pool was allowed to hear, Trump declared, “I’m here to help you folks do well. Anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you. And you’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.” He also made an oblique joke about how Twitter was not invited to the meeting—reportedly because it refused to make a “#CrookedHillary” emoji for him during the campaign.