Ethics advocates urge Trump to further distance himself from family business

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump delivered brief remarks to reporters at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, December 28, 2016. 

Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

Last Updated Jan 3, 2017 9:51 AM EST

A bipartisan group of ethics advocates are urging President-elect Donald Trump to distance himself more from his family business, according to The Washington Post.

The group sent a letter to Mr. Trump on Monday, which made clear that the steps he has taken so far to separate himself are insufficient. Instead, they said he must divest his business enterprises “into a blind trust managed by an independent trustee or the equivalent.”

“As long as you continue to maintain ownership of The Trump Organization, no other steps that you take will prevent the serious conflicts of interest, appearance of conflicts, and Emoluments Clause problems that will exist throughout your presidency,” they wrote in the letter obtained by the Post.

The ethics advocates said that as long as Mr. Trump continues as owner of The Trump Organization, the president-elect would be the “financial beneficiary of business arrangements made by domestic and foreign interests who are seeking favorable treatment” from the administration.

Mr. Trump, for his part, has said that his sons would take control of the businesses once he takes office, but the ethics advocates said that won’t solve conflict-of-interest problems.

“The same conflicts and appearance of conflicts problems would exist in these circumstances. Domestic and foreign interests would see providing financial benefits to your family as a means to curry favor and obtain influence with you,” they wrote.

Among the letter signers were two conservative allies of Trump senior adviser Stephen Bannon -- Peter Schweizer who wrote the book “Clinton Cash” and John Pudner who runs the advocacy group Take Back Our Republic, according to the Post.

On Christmas Eve, Mr. Trump announced that he had planned to dissolve his family’s charitable foundation and that he had directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to do so. The foundation, however, cannot formally shut down until after the New York state attorney general’s office completes its investigation of the foundation.

Last month, Mr. Trump postponed a planned announcement regarding how he would separate from his business empire. Soon after, he tweeted that he would be leaving his businesses before his inauguration next month, that his two sons would manage them while he serves in the White House and that there will be “no new deals” during that time.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.