Bill by Conyers, Dems urges Trump to divest conflicts

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Rep. John Conyers Jr. and Democratic colleagues in both chambers of Congress on Monday introduced legislation that would require the president and vice president and their immediate family members to disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest.

The bills’ sponsors are concerned that President-elect Donald Trump could benefit financially from the presidency. Their legislation would also require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from matters involving financial conflicts of interest that come before their agencies.

“President-elect Trump campaigned on the promise that he would ‘drain the swamp’ and put an end to self-dealing in Washington. Just days before he takes office, his actions speak louder than his words,” said Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

“Mr. Trump has failed to take even modest steps to resolve his conflicts of interest, let alone explain to the public how he will avoid using his office to his own financial benefit. If the president-elect will not act, it is imperative that Congress do so.”

Conyers, D-Detroit, is a primary sponsor of the legislation, along with Reps. Katherine Clark and Richard Neal of Massachusetts, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Peter Welch of Vermont and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Companion legislation was also introduced in the Senate, where Michigan U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are among its original co-sponsors.

The bill comes two days before President-elect Donald Trump is expected to discuss how he’ll deal with potential conflict of interests related to his vast business holdings at a news conference in New York City.

The legislation calls for a sitting president to disclose their financial interests to Congress and the director of the Office of Government Ethics, including three years’ worth of tax returns filed by or on behalf of the president and each taxable year for which an audit of the return by the Internal Revenue Service is pending.

Also, the president and vice president would have to divest any financial interest posing a potential conflict of interest by transferring those assets to a qualified blind trust.

Republicans control both chambers of Congress, so the possibility of the bill advancing are low.

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