By Steve Holland
NEW YORK, Nov 30 – Under pressure to avoid any conflict of interest, President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will be leaving his far-flung business “in total” to focus on running the country and scheduled a Dec. 15 news conference to lay out his plan.
Trump announced his plans in a series of tweets but did not explain exactly what he would be doing with his assets.
A variety of critics have raised questions about how he would avoid a conflict of interest between the presidency and a real estate empire with properties around the world.
“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!” Trump said.
Trump said he is not required by law to alter his relationship with his business, but added: “I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”
“Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!” he added.
Clearly reluctant to give up a business that made him a brand name around the world, Trump had previously argued that he had no need to separate himself from the Trump Organization.
But criticism has mounted. An analysis by The New York Times, published last Saturday, said Trump’s companies have business operations in at least 20 countries.
The Wall Street Journal said in a Nov. 17 editorial that Trump should liquidate his assets in order to avoid any appearance of a conflict.
“The political damage to a new administration could be extensive. If Mr. Trump doesn’t liquidate, he will be accused of a pecuniary motive any time he takes a policy position,” The Journal said.