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house Bill H.R. 6340

Should the President and Vice President Have to Put Their Assets In a Blind Trust?

Argument in favor

The president and vice president should be legally required to either put their assets in a blind trust or make a disclosure every time government business creates a conflict of interest with their finances. Just because recent presidents have used blind trusts doesn’t mean all will willingly do so.

Olivia 's Opinion
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11/22/2016
It's literally in Article 2 of the Constitution that the president is to receive a flat salary and NO other compensations. Trump must put his assets into a blind trust or he's acting unconstitutionally.
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Cody's Opinion
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11/22/2016
Donald Trump has spend his entire life making business decisions that affect his own well-being, frequently at the expense of the contractors that he has hired and the local economies that depend on his business. While capitalism has rewarded his actions as a businessperson, he cannot receive the same rewards from his role in the federal government. To do so would take advantage of the American people as well as the US and world economy. Supporting this bill is in the interest of every American who wants to see the president act toward the benefit of his constituents without thinking selfishly. Such is the purpose of civic service.
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Marcus's Opinion
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11/22/2016
Separation of public and private interests has been a hot topic throughout the election season. Even if only to err on the side of caution, Donald Trump should be required to establish a blind trust--with no immediate family members involved. Thank you for your time.
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Argument opposed

Avoiding conflicts of interest is a desirable goal, but Congress shouldn’t be placing restrictions on how the president and vice president manage their financial assets. Besides, the number of genuine conflicts of interest that could arise because of actions taken by the president is small.

s.lewis27's Opinion
···
11/24/2016
Despite my personal feelings regarding Donald Trump, with the way this bill is drafted I have to dissent from the majority. The sticking point for me is that this bill would affect not just Donald Trump and Mike Pence, but all future presidents and vice presidents. The idea of a blind trust only sounds perfect right now because most voting in favor of it do not believe for a second that Trump will follow any of the promises he is currently making. He is already showing inability to separate lines just from the examples on Countable (Ivanka in a meeting with the Japanese PM and Trump in a meeting with his Indian business partners). However, a blind trust wouldn't mean just taking control from Trump and immediate family; first step is selling off all assets and reallocating to new investments, meaning everything that he has spent his life building (those god-awful towers) sold, most likely at a loss, and then that money reinvested into "blind assets." Doing this takes away the identity of the man just declared president-elect, a main reason I assume most of his supporters associate with him. A recent Washington Post article by David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey who practice appellate and constitutional law in the District states, "Moreover, requiring Trump to liquidate his holdings would discourage other entrepreneurs from seeking the presidency, leaving the field clear for professional politicians and investors. Given that the American people have made clear their disgust with Washington’s elite, creating a disincentive for businesspeople to seek the presidency is not in the public interest." This is not something I am interested in doing. It was an error to elect Trump, who is human garbage in my opinion, but he was elected nonetheless. I am not hopeless that, in the future, someone of Trump's wealth but without his lying, lack of empathy nature would come forward and want to lead. I would not want this bill to deter them. Career politicians do lead to some of the stagnation we see in politics I believe. Also, Obama did not use a blind trust for reasons of his own, yet because of the nature of his wealth and, I believe, the general opinion that he would not willfully screw over the whole country for his own self gain, it was not a matter that was pressed. A bill focusing on stricter financial guidelines for presidents who opt not to use a blind trusts, such as what interactions they are allowed to have and how often, when they reveal financial statements, and implementing a neutral monitoring party of lawyers and regulators (not this ridiculous Reince Priebus promising to behave), etc. would make more sense and be more beneficial.
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Mark's Opinion
···
11/23/2016
Congressman & Senators own property and businesses they are not forced to put that into a blind trust. Quit being cry babies and grow up, this beneath you. Until this law applies equally to ALL elected officials it is nothing more than pathetic excuse to hurt the man (and his family) who prevented Crooked Hillary from being President.
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Darby's Opinion
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11/22/2016
Why can't his children take care of his business for him? I believe that he should have control of his assets as President but I believe that his children should be able to run his businesses. He should not have to lose everything to a stranger. A Blind Trust would force him to sell some of his assets to a complete stranger, and that is not right.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedNovember 17th, 2016

What is House Bill H.R. 6340?

This bill — known as the Presidential Accountability Act — would require the president and vice president to place their assets in a certified blind trust or make a disclosure to the Office of Government Ethics and the public when they make a decision that affects their personal finances.

A blind trust is intended to prevent conflicts of interest arising between the performance of a politician’s official duties and their personal financial interests. They are set up in such a way that the people whose assets go into the trust have no knowledge of what the trust has invested in and no right to intervene in how those assets are handled.

Under current law, federal officeholders are prohibited from engaging in government business when they stand to personally profit, but the president and vice president are exempted. This bill would eliminate that exemption, and also prohibit the president and vice president from engaging in government business which they or their families can benefit financially from.

Presidents and vice presidents would be able to retroactively request an exemption from this rule if a national emergency necessitates that they take immediate actions which affect their personal financial interests if they ask for the exemption within 48 hours of taking the action. If the Office of Government Ethics finds that an exemption wouldn’t have been granted under the circumstances, the president and vice president would be required to repay whatever benefit they gained.

Impact

The Office of Government Ethics; entities managing blind trusts; and the president and vice president.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6340

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced this bill because of President-Elect Donald Trump’s business interests, which include a federal contract to operate a hotel in the D.C. Old Post Office Pavilion, debt to foreign banks, and the presence of his children in leadership positions in both the transition team the Trump Organization:

“The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in the global economy. Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people. The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, not the President’s financial interests.”

President-Elect Trump has said he would leave his three oldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric — in charge of his business interests during his administration despite their serving on his transition team.

Of Note: The first president to use a blind trust was Lyndon Johnson, which he used so that he and his wife, Lady Bird, could maintain ownership of a TV station in Austin, Texas. Since then, most presidents have put their assets into a blind trust or a similar investment arrangement to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

In 1978, the Ethics in Government Act required the president, vice president, and other executive branch offers to make financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics. The legislation also defined a “qualified blind trust,” which stipulates that the trustee have no association with the whoever puts their assets in.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore)

AKA

Presidential Accountability Act

Official Title

To extend conflict of interest provisions to the President and Vice President of the United States.

    It's literally in Article 2 of the Constitution that the president is to receive a flat salary and NO other compensations. Trump must put his assets into a blind trust or he's acting unconstitutionally.
    Like (70)
    Follow
    Share
    Despite my personal feelings regarding Donald Trump, with the way this bill is drafted I have to dissent from the majority. The sticking point for me is that this bill would affect not just Donald Trump and Mike Pence, but all future presidents and vice presidents. The idea of a blind trust only sounds perfect right now because most voting in favor of it do not believe for a second that Trump will follow any of the promises he is currently making. He is already showing inability to separate lines just from the examples on Countable (Ivanka in a meeting with the Japanese PM and Trump in a meeting with his Indian business partners). However, a blind trust wouldn't mean just taking control from Trump and immediate family; first step is selling off all assets and reallocating to new investments, meaning everything that he has spent his life building (those god-awful towers) sold, most likely at a loss, and then that money reinvested into "blind assets." Doing this takes away the identity of the man just declared president-elect, a main reason I assume most of his supporters associate with him. A recent Washington Post article by David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey who practice appellate and constitutional law in the District states, "Moreover, requiring Trump to liquidate his holdings would discourage other entrepreneurs from seeking the presidency, leaving the field clear for professional politicians and investors. Given that the American people have made clear their disgust with Washington’s elite, creating a disincentive for businesspeople to seek the presidency is not in the public interest." This is not something I am interested in doing. It was an error to elect Trump, who is human garbage in my opinion, but he was elected nonetheless. I am not hopeless that, in the future, someone of Trump's wealth but without his lying, lack of empathy nature would come forward and want to lead. I would not want this bill to deter them. Career politicians do lead to some of the stagnation we see in politics I believe. Also, Obama did not use a blind trust for reasons of his own, yet because of the nature of his wealth and, I believe, the general opinion that he would not willfully screw over the whole country for his own self gain, it was not a matter that was pressed. A bill focusing on stricter financial guidelines for presidents who opt not to use a blind trusts, such as what interactions they are allowed to have and how often, when they reveal financial statements, and implementing a neutral monitoring party of lawyers and regulators (not this ridiculous Reince Priebus promising to behave), etc. would make more sense and be more beneficial.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Donald Trump has spend his entire life making business decisions that affect his own well-being, frequently at the expense of the contractors that he has hired and the local economies that depend on his business. While capitalism has rewarded his actions as a businessperson, he cannot receive the same rewards from his role in the federal government. To do so would take advantage of the American people as well as the US and world economy. Supporting this bill is in the interest of every American who wants to see the president act toward the benefit of his constituents without thinking selfishly. Such is the purpose of civic service.
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    Separation of public and private interests has been a hot topic throughout the election season. Even if only to err on the side of caution, Donald Trump should be required to establish a blind trust--with no immediate family members involved. Thank you for your time.
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    If others in the executive branch are required to put assets in blind trust, president should too.
    Like (14)
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    This whole situation is ridiculous. This bill needs to pass immediately.
    Like (13)
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    I'd like to see Mr. Trump's potential conflicts of interest be seriously and thoroughly investigated. He seems to be pretty ill-informed about just how big a deal this actually is and why it's a bad precedent to set.
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    We have to be sure the president is focused on our needs, more than his own. If he needs to focus so on his private affairs, he should have remained a private citizen.
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    Presidential candidates should be required to disclose income taxes in order to run for office.
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    I strongly urge you to vote in favor of this bill! For our President-Elect to continue his direct or indirect involvement in his Personal Business Enterprise is unprecedented, unconscionable, and essentially contradicts what he promised to the American people before he was elected. As a representative of the people you serve you are not bound by party affiliation and ideology to ignore this blatant conflict of interest. Make the ethical, if not moral, choice in favor of this measure.
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    Congressman & Senators own property and businesses they are not forced to put that into a blind trust. Quit being cry babies and grow up, this beneath you. Until this law applies equally to ALL elected officials it is nothing more than pathetic excuse to hurt the man (and his family) who prevented Crooked Hillary from being President.
    Like (5)
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    Anything less calls all domestic and foreign policy initiatives into question-- is it for the benefit of the US Or the Executive?
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    Absolutely. I feel that if you want to be President, your investments take a backseat.
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    This is an unprecedented situation where a billionaire with global business relationships is the president. We, as a country must do what we can to insure that his position as a PUBLIC servant does not directly benefit his PRIVATE business interests.
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    We need keep their business separate from being leaders of the free world. This would remove the possibility no matter what their best intentions are.
    Like (4)
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    How can one govern for ALL and not themselves without disentangling their interests?
    Like (4)
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    Of course - how do you ensure conflicts of interests -- look at what this guy did with Trump U -- look what he did about not paying taxes for 20 years -- this man will take advantage of anything he can -- think congress people ought to do the same thing
    Like (3)
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    Trump has proved untrustworthy. If he's so sure that there will be no conflict, then there should be no reason not to do this.
    Like (3)
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    There should be no temptation of the president using their power to further their interests over the American people.
    Like (3)
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    Why can't his children take care of his business for him? I believe that he should have control of his assets as President but I believe that his children should be able to run his businesses. He should not have to lose everything to a stranger. A Blind Trust would force him to sell some of his assets to a complete stranger, and that is not right.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
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