Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Will anyone care when Trump runs his business out of the White House?

by digby

I wrote about it again for Salon. I just can't understand why nobody seems to see this as totally disqualifying but it doesn't seem to be getting much traction in the media:

Somebody finally noticed that Donald Trump is planning to keep his far-flung private business in the family while he’s president — an arrangement that goes far beyond an “appearance of impropriety” to an outright conflict of interest that could create serious problems for American national security. Over the weekend, a group of former government officials of both parties released an open letter urging Trump to disclose information about his overseas business dealings. Considering that this man is refusing to even disclose his tax returns, this seems like a long shot. But it’s important that the issue remains live because it could not be more important.

The signers of the letter represent all quarters of the national security and foreign policy establishment, from Michael Morell, former acting CIA director under Barack Obama, to Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush. They were responding to last week’sNewsweek investigation by Kurt Eichenwald into the Trump Organization’s foreign ties. (I wrote about the article here.) The letter states:
Donald Trump still has not revealed to the American public his international business relationships, even as it becomes increasingly clear that his overseas ties could well constitute significant conflicts of interest when it comes to charting U.S. foreign policy. This is unprecedented for a candidate for the nation’s highest office. As such, we are calling on Mr. Trump to disclose, in full, the nature of his business relationships overseas — to include specifically who his business partners are and what and where are his foreign investments.

They demand that he divest himself of all overseas business interests if he should win the presidency.

So far, Trump has simply said that he plans to “follow all the laws” and turn his multimillion-dollar private business over to his children to run. When questioned, he has not seemed to understand why anyone would question the propriety of such an arrangement, even as he has excoriated Hillary Clinton for her ties to the family’s global charity which has not personally profited her in any way. (The difference between thetransparency of the Clinton Foundation and Trump’s privately held business could not be more stark.) Trump seems to believe it’s adequate to assure the public that he simply won’t care about the business while he’s president.

Oddly, Jason Miller of the Trump campaign responded to the letter with a sideswipe against one of the signers, Wendy Sherman, an experienced diplomat and negotiator, for her role in the Iran deal:
If Wendy Sherman is the definition of who is considered a reliable government official, this letter and its signatories lose all credibility. Sherman was appointed to the State Department by Hillary Clinton during her disastrous tenure and was the lead negotiator in opening up Iran — the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — for business, ultimately funding terrorist activities and exporting violence around the world. Based on her complete failure in representing American foreign policy and deep ties to Secretary Clinton, this letter epitomizes the rigged system in Washington that has continued to fail Americans over and over again.
The letter was signed by Republicans who have worked as high-level members of the intelligence establishment as well. Perhaps they’re not expected to believe the Trump campaign was calling them unreliable government officials.

Frankly, the signers of that letter are missing the point. It’s true that we do not know the extent of Trump’s holdings. He has released nothing more than a list of 500 affiliated entities in his Federal Elections Commission report, which was the only information Eichenwald had to go on when he launched his investigation. He followed the trail of several of those entities to such far-flung places as South Korea, India, Turkey, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Azerbaijan, and detailed a byzantine network of business and government alliances. Eichenwald says there are also “deep connections in China, Brazil, Bulgaria, Argentina, Canada, France, Germany and other countries.”

The problem is that this is simply not fixable. Here’s how Eichenwald describes the nature of Trump’s business, which deals with foreign financiers, developers, government officials, tax havens and shady oligarchs:
The GOP nominee is essentially a licensor who leverages his celebrity into streams of cash from partners from all over the world. The business model for Trump’s company started to change around 2007, after he became the star of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” which boosted his national and international fame. Rather than constructing Trump’s own hotels, office towers and other buildings, much of his business involved striking deals with overseas developers who pay his company for the right to slap his name on their buildings. (The last building constructed by Trump with his name on it is the Trump-SoHo hotel and condominium project, completed in 2007.)
The foreign business, you see, is the Trump name. He cannot “divest.” It’s not something you can sell. And no one could buy it. You likewise cannot put it in a blind trust — it’s his name on buildings and developments all over the world. He cannot literally wear blinders as president of the United States. Even if he were to tell his kids to find another line of work and simply walk away from the Trump Organization, shutting the doors and leaving it all behind, there are hundreds of deals already in place and contractual ramifications years into the future, all of which would present crippling conflicts of interest for President Trump. Trump’s business interests would have had to be unwound years ago for him to be able to function properly as president. It’s literally impossible to do it now.

In case you were wondering, Trump has no legal obligation to do anything. Presidents are exempt from conflict-of-interest statutes. It was decided that it would be too complicated to write such a law for an office with such expansive powers. Instead we have depended upon norms that govern the behavior of our leaders, ensuring they are seen as acting solely on behalf of the people while they hold the office. Donald Trump has exploded every norm in politics so far. If he wins this election, there’s every likelihood that he’ll simply tell everyone that he’s not making any important decisions for the Trump Organization, and that will be that. We will have a real-life oligarch in the White House, who will likely leave a whole lot richer then when he came in, while the people will be a whole lot poorer. That’s been his business model from the beginning.