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Trump shrugs off concerns: 'The president can’t have a conflict of interest’

President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday the law protects him from possible conflicts of interest with his sprawling business empire.

"The law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest. " he told The New York Times, according to a transcript of the interview.


Trump has generated concerns about the possible blurring of politics and business when he takes office in January. Some have argued that Trump could run afoul of a constitutional clause guarding against enrichment from foreign governments, but it is not entirely clear if that rule applies to the president.

His claim about the president's exemption from conflict of interest law largely checks out, but there are still some questions about Trump and the spirit of the Emoluments Clause, which aims to protect against foreign gifts. Of course, Trump also faces political hurdles and perception issues from his businesses that go beyond the letter of the law.

Since Trump's election, reports have surfaced that the president-elect had spoken about business matters on calls with foreign officials. Also, his daughter Ivanka, who Trump says will help run his businesses, sat in on Trump's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump seemed to confirm that he had brought up business interests related to a Scottish golf course in a meeting with British politician Nigel Farage. Trump told the newspaper on Tuesday that he "might have brought it up."

In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal argued that Trump should solve his business conflict problem by liquidating his holdings.

The president-elect told the Times, meanwhile, that his DC hotel had likely become a more valuable asset because of his electoral victory, adding that the brand had become "hotter."

Trump argued that, "in theory," he could continue to run his businesses while in office, but said he is giving control to his children. He said he had "assumed" he would have to set up a trust to transfer his assets, but contended that it was not legally necessary. Still, he added, "I would like to do something."

Trump suggested he does not care about his business interests relative to his presidency.

Trump's business holdings and real estate interests around the globe present unprecedented possible presidential conflicts. Trump and his advisors have played down the potential for personal enrichment during his presidency even after reports of business remarks with foreign officials.

He has said transferring control of his business to his three eldest children would not constitute a "blind trust," a setup that many have called for him to create. In addition to Ivanka, Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, serve on his transition team. Trump could also test anti-nepotism laws and offer Kushner a role in the administration.