Presidential candidate Donald Trump has a stake in hundreds of businesses including hotels and golf courses around the world. While it's still unclear how much the real-estate mogul is actually worth ... there's no denying he's a wealthy man.
What happens to all Trump's assets and investments if he becomes the next president of the United States? Will he have to give up his businesses while in office? Well, it's complicated but the answer is no, legally speaking.
The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 does not require that the president sell or change how they handle their private businesses. In fact, only unelected officials who serve in the executive branch are prohibited from a business based conflict of interest.
For example, the Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush had to sell off his Goldman Sachs stock before taking office. But the president is exempt, on the basis that any business holding could be viewed as a conflict of interest since the president holds the highest office and is assumed to have a hand in everything.
Instead of taking all of the President's business holdings, we as the electorate are expected to trust the person we elect not to act dishonestly. Still, if elected, Trump would be at the very least legally required to disclose all of his holdings, companies and business relationships.
Historically, in order to maintain propriety, presidents have put their investments in a blind trust, which is run by a third party without involvement by the president. Since the 1960s, most presidents have done so. But the problem with blind trusts is that it's really hard to make sure they're blind. And there is a big complication when it comes to Trump: his name.
Since his a large source of income is his brand name, it would be impossible for Trump not to notice which buildings and businesses license his name after transferring ownership of it to a blind trust.
Also, if his children run the trust, as he said they will, it would obviously be far from blind. Without Trump selling off the entire Trump Organization and removing his children from the company as well, the conflicts of interest that exist can't truly be mitigated. This is potentially a huge problem, especially concerning Trump's unique political and business relationships.
Take South Korea for example: Trump recently said that the country should handle its own military defense without any U.S. aid, including the development of nuclear weapons. But in past business dealings in South Korea, Trump partnered with Daewoo Engineering and Construction, a company involved in nuclear energy. Hypothetically, if Trump is elected and follows through with his push for nuclear development in South Korea, Daewoo Engineering and Construction - and therefore the Trump Organization - could potentially make an enormous profit. And this is just one example of potential foreign conflicts of interest.
According to Newsweek, Trump is allegedly connected to business dealings in at least 10 other countries including India, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil and Germany. And The New York Times reports that the Trump Organization owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bank of China and Goldman Sachs. But in truth, we don't even know the depth of his businesses and possible conflicts since he hasn't publically released his financial information.
In essence, if elected, we'd have to trust that he would act in the best interest of the United States, despite the apparent conflicts of interests that would emerge as he engages politically with former partners and foes. Thanks for watching Seeker Daily, please make sure to keep coming back for news every day!