Just throwing a blanket over them won’t work

The reporting on conflicts of interest has finally gotten through to Trump and the Trumplings.

Realizing that his presidency could face potentially crippling questions over conflicts of interest, Donald J. Trump and his family are rushing to resolve potential controversies — like shuttering foundations and terminating development deals — even as the president-elect publicly maintains that no legal conflicts exist.

In recent days, the president-elect and his aides have said that he intends to distribute the assets of his personal charity and then close it down, has examined a plan to hire an outside monitor to oversee the Trump Organization and has terminated some international business projects.

He’s not exactly a quick study, is he. How long has it been? Six weeks?

Even with these steps, Mr. Trump will enter the White House with a maze of financial holdings unlike those of any other president in American history. Many ethics experts still say the only way Mr. Trump can eliminate his most serious conflicts is to liquidate his company, and then put the money into a blind trust — a move Mr. Trump has so far rejected as impractical and unreasonable.

But then he shouldn’t have run for president, should he.

“Yes, it would be hard to sell the business — there would be some personal discomfort,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit group that has mocked Mr. Trump’s efforts to “drain the swamp” of Washington special interests. “But he ran for president of the United States and won, so those considerations can’t be weighted very heavily.”

Nobody made him run for president; it was his idea.

The hurried effort to clean up some of the family’s potential conflicts stands in contrast to the public statements by Mr. Trump since his election that as president he would not be subject to conflict of interest laws and could eliminate most questions by turning his business operations over entirely to his children.

But in recent weeks, as public scrutiny of Mr. Trump’s global business operations has intensified, Mr. Trump, his family, their executives in New York and a team of outside lawyers have been working to eliminate many of these potential flash points — a task so complicated that Mr. Trump has delayed announcing the details.

Good. We can get to them. That’s good.

Mr. Trump gave little thought to what to do with his business in the event of a victory on Election Day. But embarrassing reversals by his children highlighted concerns that access to the incoming administration could be for sale, and pressed the family to respond. A charity auction for coffee with Ivanka Trump, his daughter, was canceled, and Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., the president-elect’s sons, pulled out of another charity event that asked donors to give as much as $1 million in return for access to their father and a hunting expedition with his sons.

In interviews late last week, executives at the Trump Organization, advisers on the Trump transition team and members of Mr. Trump’s family said they were determined to move aggressively in the remaining days before the inauguration to clear as many of these potential conflicts as possible.

It remains astonishingly stupid that they didn’t think of that before.

The Times lists some of the things they’ve done so far. Here’s a good one:

A labor dispute with hundreds of workers at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas — which generated calls for a national boycott of Trump properties and protest rallies — was suddenly settled on Wednesday, with the hotel agreeing to provide pensions, health insurance, annual wage increases and other benefits that it previously refused to offer. Another agreement with employees at the just-opened Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington will allow them to organize a union.

Good. On the other hand – how repellent that richy rich Trump was refusing to provide pensions, health insurance, annual wage increases and other benefits to workers in his Las Vegas hotel. Gold armchairs for him, no health insurance for his workers. Nice.

The turnaround on the labor union dispute demonstrates just how sudden the shift has been. In November, four days before Election Day, the Trump hotel filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Appeals challenging a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that ordered his hotel in Las Vegas to recognize a labor union that workers voted for in late 2015 and to negotiate a new contract. A month later, company officials invited labor negotiators to Trump Tower for a three-day negotiation.

On Wednesday, the union ratified a deal that gave the 500 workers generous health care coverage, pensions, a guaranteed workweek and other protections, and set up a grievance system if they objected to conditions. The lawsuit was also dropped, as were outstanding matters pending before the labor relations board, which will soon be under Mr. Trump’s control.

His lawyers must have told him he really needed to deal with it.

But – doing a little isn’t going to solve the problem here.

While the family may be removing some of the most obvious problems, critics say Mr. Trump will still know what properties his family owns and which policy decisions will benefit them, no matter how careful he is.

The portfolio of assets might influence his interactions with leaders in nations such as Turkey and the Philippines, where Mr. Trump has prominent marketing deals. In places where he has allowed the use of his family name and even his image, Mr. Trump will soon be confronting foreign policy decisions, such as how to confront human rights violations or fight terrorism.

The family, at least so far, has not announced how it will resolve other issues, such as the lease at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which was issued by the federal government’s General Services Administration, an agency Mr. Trump will soon oversee.

Trump-owned hotels and golf courses across the globe could benefit from business sent to them by foreign governments or other corporate players seeking to try to influence Mr. Trump. Loans that help finance his companies and permits issued by local government or foreign entities — even on projects that are already built — could be perceived as special favors. Payments by foreign governments to his hotels — for diplomatic soirees or overnight stays — might violate the so-called emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits gifts to federal employees from foreign government entities.

Conflict conflict conflict.

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