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Donald Trump to leave business empire to concentrate on presidency

Published 30/11/2016

President-elect Donald Trump has dinner with Mitt Romney in New York (AP)
President-elect Donald Trump has dinner with Mitt Romney in New York (AP)

US President-elect Donald Trump has announced that he is leaving his business empire to focus on being the nation's 45th president.

He said he will hold a news conference with his children on the subject on December 15.

"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," he said in a series of tweets.

"While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses."

Mr Trump did not provide any details about how he planned to separate from his businesses, although he said legal documents were being prepared.

He has previously said that he would leave his business operations to his three eldest children - Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka.

Ethics experts have pushed for Mr Trump to fully exit the ownership of his businesses using a blind trust or equivalent arrangement.

"Otherwise he will have a personal financial interest in his businesses that will sometimes conflict with the public interest and constantly raise questions," Norman Eisen, President Barack Obama's chief ethics lawyer, and Richard Painter, who held the same post for President George W Bush, said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Mr Trump was also moving forward with his Cabinet selections, choosing former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary.

Mr Mnuchin, 53, led Mr Trump's finance operations during the presidential campaign. However, he has no government experience, which could prove a political hurdle.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would play a central role in shaping Mr Trump's tax policies and infrastructure plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with implementing international economic sanctions.

Arriving at Trump Tower for meetings on Wednesday morning, Mr Mnuchin said the administration planned "the most significant middle income tax cut since Reagan".

He also called for lowering corporate taxes to encourage companies to stay in the United States.

Mr Trump was accompanying his decision to line his Cabinet with financial industry insiders with an announcement that the air conditioning giant Carrier Corp planned to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana instead of moving them to Mexico.

He and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the outgoing Indiana governor, planned an event with Carrier officials on Thursday to announce the plan. Details of the agreement were unclear.

Mr Trump spent much of his campaign pledging to keep companies like Carrier from moving jobs overseas, relying on the skills he used in business.

His sprawling business empire is unprecedented for a sitting president, as is the complexity and opaqueness of his financial holdings.

He refused to release his taxes during the campaign, citing an ongoing audit, and will be under no legal obligation to do so in the White House.

Mr Trump owns golf clubs, office towers and other properties in several countries. He holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies.

He has struck licensing deals for use of his name on hotels and other buildings around the world and has been landing new business in the Middle East, India and South America.

Reince Priebus, Mr Trump's incoming White House chief of staff, was vague in describing how the president-elect planned to separate himself from his businesses, saying "that'll all be worked out".

He told MSNBC's Morning Joe that Mr Trump has "got the best people in America working on it".

Mr Priebus demurred when asked if Mr Trump planned to put his businesses in a blind trust - as presidents have traditionally done - or leave them in his children's hands.

"I'm not ready to reveal that really," Mr Priebus said.

He added that Mr Trump's business acumen and the many interests he has as a result of it are "nothing to be ashamed about".

He said the country has not seen a president with such business holdings before and the rules and regulations "don't contemplate this scenario".

AP

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