In recent days, it has been reported that Donald Trump, the man who will likely be inaugurated next month into the highest office in the nation, sold off all his stock in June. I am in serious doubt. Let me clarify that statement. I do not believe it. First of all, June was five full months before the November election, and though Trump always publicly insisted he would win the election, odds are that he didn’t really believe that. Nobody else did, either. So why, then, would he have sold all his stocks fully five months before the election?
Then there is the fact that his spokesperson, Jason Miller, made the announcement of the stock sale on Tuesday, but none of the Trump team has offered a shred of proof of the sale, and will not respond to queries about the date, or requests for information. And why did he (Trump) not mention this before, as many have called into question his various conflicts of interest in recent weeks? Like the tax returns, the transactions, if in fact they ever happened, seem to be shrouded in secrecy, and I smell a rat. And lastly, I disbelieve him because he lies more often than he speaks the truth, and there is no logic whatsoever to the sale, it is very un-Trump-like, and … did I mention that he lies? So no, I very seriously doubt that Donald Trump sold all his stocks back in June.
Among who-knows-how-many others, Trump owned (or owns) stock in Carrier, Energy Transfer Partners, and Boeing. Each of those has, if in fact he still owns said stock, the potential for a serious conflict of interest. Carrier is the company he arranged a deal with in order to keep them from outsourcing jobs to Mexico. Energy Transfer Partners is the major owner of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. And Boeing is currently under contract to build 2 new Air Force One planes.
According to New York Times writer Susanne Craig: “It is not possible to independently verify Mr. Trump’s stock sales, but at some point during his first term he will have to release a financial disclosure form that will include information about his stock holdings.” That simply is not good enough! ‘Sometime in his first term’ means sometime between now and December 2020! An article in The Washington Post, however, says that he will have to file financial disclosure forms in May 2018 to report his 2017 activity. That is still entirely too long!
Norm Eisen, former ethics counselor to President Obama, said “The swamp draining should begin with Trump’s own wetlands.” A little transparency here would go a long way, but in its absence, I do not believe Trump has completely divested himself of all stocks and bonds. I will not believe it until I see documentation, and I suspect that is no more likely to happen than him releasing his tax returns. Trump has announced, apparently through a tweet that, “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Yeah, right, Donnie-boy. And we will all await, with bated breath, the next round of rhetoric and lies.
I would hope that one of the excellent investigative reporters from a major news outlet such as the New York Times or Washington Post will begin digging deeper into this story. As of tonight, all media stories I read (and that was more than 20!!) either accepted as fact that he had sold every bit of his stock back in June, or expressed mild skepticism, but nobody expressed actual disbelief. I realize that the media needs to be cautious here, but I do hope they are not planning to give him a free pass as they have on so many other occasions in the past year or more. And I would call on Mr. Trump, if he intends to be believed, to provide some official documentation, proof that he is no longer in possession of those stocks that scream CONFLICT OF INTEREST in big, bold letters!
Even in the unlikely event that Trump did sell all his stocks, there remains inherent conflict of interest in other areas, the most concerning being his foreign interests. Trump has business interests in countries around the globe, countries that will be negotiating with Trump. This is a recipe for corruption. Trump has said he intends to leave the management of his businesses to his children … his children who are, coincidentally, members of his transition team. An excellent short New York Times article covers this and other potential conflict of interest hazards, and includes some simple graphics to help clarify the issues. I recommend it for a short, concise explanation.
With just under six weeks remaining until the inauguration, the Trump presidency is already mired in muck, defined by a complete lack of transparency and more lies than I can begin to count. Trump promises to unveil his plan about how he intends to distance himself from his business interests on December 15th, but I am not holding my breath for his plan to involve any degree of openness or honesty, nor to answer the questions that many of us have. Our best hope for the coming year is that Congress, even though in Republican control, will have enough cojones to stand up to Trump, refuse to confirm his worst appointments and hold him accountable for his actions. If they do not, then I simply cannot imagine what a mess our country will be in by this time next year.