Some federal provisions that might apply to President Trump
Posted November 30
President-elect Donald Trump says he will distance himself from the international property management, real estate and branding business that's been built around his name.
While he hasn't spelled out how that might work, ethics lawyers, good-government groups and others are studying the rules that might apply. In general, the president is subject to fewer conflict of interest restrictions than are other government officials.
The Congressional Research Service recently provided three pages of guidance , at the request of Democrats, on federal provisions that "might technically apply" to the president. Here are some highlights:
— The Constitution's "emoluments clause."
It's an antique-sounding phrase that could carry a big punch. The country's founders drew a bright line against a president or anyone else in government accepting a foreign gift or payments. Ethics experts are zeroing in on this as the trickiest issue for Trump, whose international business means he — at least for now — is accepting payments for goods and services in other countries. Questions would remain even if he turns the business over to his adult children.
— Employment of relatives or spouses.
The federal anti-nepotism statue — sometimes called the "Bobby Kennedy law" — was passed soon after President John F. Kennedy made his brother Robert F. Kennedy the U.S. attorney general. Now, public officials may not employ a spouse or family member in a paid position. That has been a consideration as Trump weighs possible administration roles for his adult children and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has become a trusted adviser.
— Business secrets.
This law states that a government employee or official may not disclose or divulge trade secrets or other "proprietary" information he or she learns in the course of official duties. That has the potential to complicate Trump's communications with his children and business-world peers.
— Financial disclosures.
A president must file a financial disclosure for the year when he or she has been in office for more than 60 days. In Trump's case, he is not obliged to file his first disclosure until May of 2018. However, past presidents have filed in their first year.
— Various bribery and solicitation statutes.
In general, even presidents may not accept bribes or solicitations.