Although Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office now, he continues to own stakes in hundreds of businesses, both in this country and abroad.
Ethics experts say this vast international web of personal financial ties could influence Trump’s thinking on public-policy decisions. Trump has dismissed such concerns; he notes presidents are exempt from the conflict-of-interest rules that apply to Cabinet members and other government employees.
Past presidents have complied voluntarily with the ethics rules.
What Trump and his team have done is commit to certain steps that do touch on some of the ethics and conflicts-of-interest concerns. The Trump Ethics Monitor below focuses on those promises and tracks their status.
The key questions we asked are whether Trump has claimed to make progress on his promises and what evidence has been reported to show it.>
We identified the promises and related assertions by checking debate transcripts, listening to campaign speeches and following press conferences. For broader context we spoke with Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and leading independent scholar on government ethics.
During our reporting, we posed a list of questions to the White House, the Trump Organization and Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon. We sought clarifications of definitions, explanations of how specific plans would shape up, and guidance on records documenting proof of various assertions.
A spokeswoman for Dillon’s law firm referred all questions to Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller, saying the firm doesn’t comment “on our clients or the work we do for them.” Miller and the Trump administration did not respond to NPR’s inquiries. But a White House spokeswoman did say that the White House counsel’s office is still working through several of the issues raised in this story.
The Trump Ethics Monitor will be updated as major news develops.