Senator Chris Coons (D) today joined most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate (except Tom Carper, whose absence in the below list is conspicuous) to introduce the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act of 2017 in the United States Senate and House that would require the President and Vice President to disclose and divest assets to avoid any potential financial conflicts of interest. It also would require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from any specific matters involving the President’s interests that come before their agencies.
The original co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate included Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
Yes, this legislation is in direct reaction to the actions and behavior of President-elect Donald Trump. “Our President-elect has significantly greater risk of business and financial conflicts of interest than any other president, yet has so far refused to follow the precedent set by previous presidents. To this day, President-elect Trump has refused to address his conflicts of interest,” said Senator Coons. “His continued delay in taking such steps is deeply troubling and calls into question his commitment to two fundamental responsibilities: running an open, transparent White House and fully severing his business ties before taking office. That’s why Congress must act promptly to pass this legislation that will require the President to divest their financial interests and place the proceeds in a blind trust. The presidency is a full-time job with only one client: the American people.”