A bipartisan group of politicians, ethics advocates and academics, including some prominent conservatives who are Trump supporters, have signed onto a letter warning the president-elect to sell off businesses that contribute to his many conflicts of interest.
“Respectfully, you cannot serve the country as president and also own a world-wide business enterprise, without seriously damaging the presidency,” the letter says.
The letter was signed by several moderate Republicans, including former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and former Rep. Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, who was chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee.
But the signers also include some further-right conservatives, including Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, and political consultant John Pudner of Take Back Our Republic, which seeks to build GOP support for campaign finance reform.
Punder, who is a Trump supporter, said that Trump’s main campaign slogan, “drain the swamp,” is something that he now needs to follow through on.
Bipartisan group of ethics experts & orgs sent a letter to Trump y'day calling on him to divest or risk "seriously damaging the presidency": pic.twitter.com/gT655Bow8F
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 3, 2017
“He made such a theme of things like the revolving door and the ways in which decisions can be influenced, not for the public good,” Pudner said. “If you have the presidency and people are going to question every week, ‘Why is he making this decision? Is there some business angle on it?’ I just think it undercuts so much of the reason that people did support him.”
According to NPR, the letter’s other signatories include several government watchdog groups, such as People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Common Cause and the Revolving Door Project.
The letter acknowledges that Trump has made some moves to address the conflicts, including his termination of a few foreign real estate deals and the closure of his charity, saying that it’s “a good start.”
“…but we wish to be clear that the only way to solve the problems you face remains divesting your business enterprises into a blind trust managed by an independent trustee or the equivalent.”
You can read the letter in full here.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore