NEW YORK: A prominent Democratic senator and transparency groups on Thursday stepped up pressure on Donald Trump to sever business ties and eliminate conflicts of interest before becoming US president.
Elizabeth Warren said she and other senators would introduce a bill in January that would require Trump to disclose and divest any financial conflicts of interest before the Republican property tycoon is sworn in as president on January 20.
“Placing assets in a true blind trust has been the standard for previous presidents. Our bill makes clear we expect Trump to do the same,” Warren tweeted.
Democrats are a minority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, meaning that the bill has little chance of being adopted by Congress.
On Thursday a group of protesters representing six organizations, including Public Citizen and Common Cause, were escorted into Trump Tower to deliver petitions they said were signed by more than 400,000 people demanding that the future president separate himself fully from his conglomerate, The Trump Organization.
Critics say the company, which has a network of hotels, golf clubs and residences across the globe, could expose Trump to conflicts of interest on a myriad of policies, ranging from tax reform to foreign policy.
“A second grader could see that the only solution to this problem is for President-elect Trump to sell off the family business, yet there is no sign he intends to do this,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.
Trump was originally scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday to announce plans for his business during his four-year term in office, but postponed it earlier this week to an undetermined date in January.
So far the 70-year-old billionaire has said only that his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, would take over and that the company would do no new deals while he serves as president.
In the interim, neither Trump nor his transition team have offered any new details on what mechanism Trump might adopt.
“I think the priority here is to make sure we get it right and if that takes a little bit more time, then I think the American people understand that,” a spokesman told reporters on Thursday.
The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, magnified fears about conflicts of interests when he named a local business partner of The Trump Organization a “special envoy” to the United States.