A madhouse of crazed lawmakers?
STOP the madhouse's assault on its ethics watchdog.
Keep OCE independent! Call your rep 202-224-3121
January 2, 2017
President-elect Donald J. Trump
725 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Dear President-elect Trump,
On December 9, 2016, some of us joined in a bipartisan letter to you to express our concern
that unless you take appropriate steps to dispose of your business enterprises, conflicts of
interest, appearance of conflicts and Emoluments Clause problems will face you as
We urged you in the letter “to divest your business enterprises into a true blind trust
managed by an independent trustee having no family relationship with you, or the
equivalent, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ethics in Government Act.”
We write to you again as organizations and individuals from all parts of the political
spectrum with expertise in governance issues, including ethical conduct and conflicts of
We recognize that you have taken some steps and are considering others to address the
conflicts problems facing your presidency. You have said you will announce your full plan
We appreciate the steps you have taken. According to the New York Times, these include
"terminating pending or nearly completed hotels and apartment buildings in Brazil,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Argentina, while also forgoing other early-stage ventures in places
such as India."
You have also said that you recognize the potential appearance of conflict issues posed by
your charitable foundation, and that you will shutter it. Your son Eric has announced his
intent to do the same with his foundation, and your family has also terminated, or
disassociated itself from, several charitable and inaugural fundraising activities that raised
That is a good start, but we wish to be clear that the only way to solve the problems you are
facing remains to divest your business enterprises into a blind trust managed by an
the independent trustee or the equivalent. As long as you continue to maintain ownership of
The Trump Organization, no other steps that you take will prevent the serious conflicts of
interest, appearance of conflicts, and Emoluments Clause problems that will exist
throughout your presidency.
In these circumstances, you cannot separate the presidency from your business enterprises.
Domestic interests and foreign individuals, companies, banks and governments involved in
business activities with The Trump Organization will be doing business with and
potentially providing financial benefits and profits directly to the president of the United
The domestic and foreign interests that provide financial benefits and profits inuring
directly to you also may have policy issues pending before your administration. Your own
substantial business interests also may influence the policy decisions you and your
As long as you retain ownership of The Trump Organization, you will ultimately be the
financial beneficiary of business arrangements made by domestic and foreign interests who
are seeking favorable treatment from your administration on policy matters.
The problems you face cannot be solved by turning management of The Trump
Organization over to your family members. The same conflicts and appearance of conflicts
problems would exist in these circumstances. Domestic and foreign interests would see
providing financial benefits to your family as a means to curry favor and obtain influence
Respectfully, you cannot serve the country as president and also own a worldwide business
enterprise, without seriously damaging the presidency.
In order to protect the integrity and credibility of the presidency, we again urge you to
divest your business enterprises into a true blind trust managed by an independent trustee,
or the equivalent, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ethics in Government Act.
Thank you for your attention to our letter.
Ambassador (ret.) Norm Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2005-2007
Campaign Legal Center
Arne H. Carlson, Former Governor of Minnesota (R)
Center for American Progress
Center for Media and Democracy
Former Rep. Rod Chandler (R-WA)
Former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-OK), Former Chairman, House Republican Policy Committee
Former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)
People For the American Way
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
John Pudner, Executive Director, Take Back our Republic
Former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.)
Peter Schweizer, President, Government Accountability Institute
Former Rep. Peter Smith (R-VT)
Revolving Door Project
Zephyr Teachout, Associate Law Professor, Fordham Law School, Affiliation noted for
identification purposes only
Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law,
Harvard Law School, Affiliation noted for identification purposes only
Christie Whitman, Former Governor of New Jersey (R)
The GOP party has already started without an RSVP and there's not turning back America.
Who was it who promised to drain the swamp? Republicans have apparently decided they don't need not stinking ethics committee.
House GOP votes to gut independent ethics office https://apnews.com/a349ef57fb6b4b4f82809b3c7b0d4c68
House GOP votes to put independent Office of Government Ethics under lawmakers’ control http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-gop-votes-to-put-independent-office-o…
House GOP to vote Tuesday on a proposal that would weaken Congress’ independent ethics watchdog. http://cnn.it/2i3I0Tg
House Republicans Make Surprise Move To Gut Congress’ Independent Ethics Watchdog https://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahmimms/house-republicans-move-to-gut-congr…
House GOP guts ethics panel http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/02/politics/office-of-congressional-ethics-o…
House Republicans gut their own oversight http://politi.co/2iIUCzT
GOP leaders have lost their minds. House Republicans vote to eviscerate Office of Congressional Ethics http://to.pbs.org/2hJaWz3