The conflicts of interest of Donald Trump being President are clear. He has financial interests in hundreds of companies, spread over at least 20 countries. He also has many outstanding debts. His exact assets and debts are not known because he has refused to release tax records. Ethics experts say that to clearly separate his role as president from his role as businessman, he must sell off his holdings. Trump has so far rejected that recommendation, saying via Twitter that he intends to have his two oldest sons run the Trump Organization. Yet, it is those same people who have been deeply engaged in the transition work of the incoming Trump administration. Up to this point the national media has assumed Trump wasn’t participating because he simply didn’t care. Trump himself has indicated through Twitter that he is smart, and thus doesn’t need to be briefed regularly. The reality is that Trump may already be aware of inside information that may be passed on to him from his staff or Mike Pence. Trump is very aware of his influence on the stock market, and he must know that his Tweets are being watched closely by traders. So why would Trump try to create the impression that he is not receiving confidential information from the national security team.
Trump may have recognized the problem. He has made national headlines by refusing to participate in most security briefings. He allows other people nominated for his cabinet, along with Mike Pence to participate. However he has declined to personally participate in most briefings.
Perhaps Trump has been advised by his many attorneys that he exposes himself to criminal liability by getting confidential information. “The Stock Act bars the President, the Vice President, and all executive branch employees from: using nonpublic information for private profit; engaging in insider trading; or intentionally influencing an employment decision or practice of a private entity solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.”
For Trump, it all presents a special problem, especially since he has unprecedented conflicts of interest, has so far decided not to completely divest himself of his businesses and is going to leave control of his business in the hands of his children. By pretending not to have access to inside information, Trump creates the illusion that he is not profiting from his position as President-elect. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which he would NOT make money from the inside information he receives. By not divesting himself of his ownership of at least some stock in hundreds of companies, and by not producing his tax returns, the President-elect of America is already making money at our expense. Trump loved making money, especially off of scams like Trump University.
Trump has repeatedly denied the accusations against Trump University. While campaigning, he said he’d win in court and then restart the program, which largely shut down in 2010. And at a debate during the Republican primary contest, Trump said he could settle the case but wouldn’t out of principle. Yet after the election, Trump paid $25 Million Dollars to settle the case. The clear indication is that Trump will say or do anything that he perceives will make him money. He uses attorneys to manipulate the system for his benefit. Perhaps that is exactly what he is doing now that provides inside information to him, while pretending to be unaware of confidential information conveyed in security briefings.