Top U.S. ethics official: Trumps plan to hand over business control meaningless

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The top ethics official in the U.S. government on Wednesday dismissed President-elect Donald Trump's promise to cede day-to-day control of his businesses to family members as nothing more than a "meaningless" symbolic gesture.

Walter Shaub, chief of the Office of Government Ethics, a watchdog that monitors the federal government, told reporters that Trump's stated plan does hardly anything to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest he would face in the White House.

"The plan the president has announced doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met," Shaub said at his news conference, calling Trump's plan "meaningless from a conflicts of interest perspective."

"We can't risk the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for professional profit," he added.

The president-elect made it clear Wednesday that he won't give up his ownership stake in the Trump Organization -- but rather place managerial control of his holdings with two of his sons.

"My two sons are going to be running the company," he said. "They are going to be running it in a very professional way. They're not going to discuss it with me."

However, Trump made it clear he would not give up his ownership stake in the Trump Organization.

The possibility of Trump's business affairs influencing his decisions as commander in-chief has worried many in the public and private sectors.

Trump attorney Sheri Dillon also said the president-elect's daughter Ivanka, too, will refrain from day-to-day business dealings because she is married to Jared Kushner, one of Trump's top White House advisers.

Shaub is urging Trump to divest in his businesses, which he says is the best move to address conflict concerns.

"I don't think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the president of the United States of America," he said, adding that divesting would serve as a good example for future presidents and other members of the government.

Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe agreed, called Trump's plan a "fraudulent runaround."

Trump's team is still in the process of hiring an ethics official to guide them away from potential conflicts of interest.
Doug G. Ware

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