Donald Trump's international business holdings present unprecedented - perhaps even unconstitutional - conflicts of interests. In today’s workout we’ll help ensure that the president-elect disclose and divest the Trump empire. Grab your phone, warm up your dialin’ finger, and let’s do this!
Federal rules prohibit most elected officials from using their positions for profit, but these rules do not apply to the president or vice president. Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) is fighting to close this loophole by introducing the Presidential Accountability Act. The bill is currently being reviewed by various subcommittees (where bills go to die), and it needs your help to get pushed through.
Check out this list of the bill’s cosponsors. Is your representative there? If so, call and say thank you. If not, call and ask your representative to cosponsor the bill. It’s quick and easy. All you have to say is “I’m concerned about President-Elect Trump’s unprecedented conflicts of interest, and I’d like Representative [Last Name] to co-sponsor the Presidential Accountability Act.”
You’ve already done more in five minutes than most people do in a month! Want to keep fighting? Call the committee chairman (a Republican because they hold the House), and the ranking member (the most senior Democrat) and ask them to bring the bill to hearing.
Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI; chair): (202) 225-5101
Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX): (202) 225-3816
Finally, check to see if any of your representatives (or even other representatives from your state) are also on the subcommittee and call them as well.
Now it’s time for the real workout. Read up on Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, especially that last clause. What are emoluments, you ask? Profits. Yet the applicability of this clause to Trump’s conflicts of interest is not getting nearly enough attention.
Your task: Write a letter the editor to a newspaper in your area. Even if you mostly read the New York Times, go local this time. In this letter, explain in your own words why Trump's business holdings are problematic based on your understanding of Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.
Be sure to look up your newspaper’s letter to the editor editorial policies before sending. The word count might be shorter than you think. Also, some newspapers only accept letter submissions by fax, but there are many free online fax tools if you don’t have a fax machine handy. Take a screenshot of your letter, post on social media, and tag us at #mycivicworkout! Bonus points for letting us know if your letter makes it to print.
So far, the only indication that Trump may actually be distancing himself from his financial holdings is that, on December 6, he and his spokesman Jason Miller announced that Trump had sold off his stocks in June. However, neither provided any evidence of the sale, and considering the president-elect’s history of questionable or downright false statements regarding his finances—see, for example, David Fahrenthold’s months-long, exhaustive debunking of Trump’s claims regarding his charitable giving and namesake foundation—the claim remains suspect. Until proof of the transaction has been established, such as by releasing broker records, this article will proceed based on his FEC filings, which remain the most recent documentation of his financial holdings.