- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2017

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other congressional Democrats introduced legislation Monday that would require President-elect Donald Trump to completely divest from any business assets that pose a potential conflict of interest.

The Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act of 2017 would require the president, vice president, their spouses, and their minor or dependent children to divest interests that create such conflicts and place them in a blind trust.

“The only way for President-elect Trump to truly eliminate conflicts-of-interest is to divest his financial interests by placing them in a blind trust,” said Mrs. Warren, Massachusetts Democrat.

“This has been the standard for previous presidents, and our bill makes clear the continuing expectation that President-elect Trump do the same,” she said.

The legislation would also ban presidential appointees from participating in issues that directly involve the financial interests of the president, the president’s spouse, or business interests controlled by the president or the first lady.

The president and vice president would also have to submit a disclosure of financial interests to Congress and to the Office of Government Ethics within 30 days of taking office.

Two dozen Democratic senators and a half-dozen Democratic House members have signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill.

Mr. Trump has been faced with how he plans to unwind from his sprawling business empire upon entering the Oval Office. He has said he plans to turn control of his company over to his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.

The president-elect has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday where he will presumably face questions on his business, as well as on other topics.

He had originally scheduled a Dec. 15 press conference to address the business issues, but his team postponed it.

About a dozen liberal and government watchdog groups signed a letter Monday urging senators to support the measure. The letter was also signed by ethics lawyers who served under both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.

The legislation also includes a measure from Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, that would require the sitting president and presidential nominees from a major political party to release their federal income tax returns for the three most recent years.

Citing an ongoing IRS audit, Mr. Trump broke with decades-long precedent by refusing to release his tax returns during the presidential campaign.

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