Zephyr Teachout is an academic and activist who has written about the long, ugly history of corruption within American politics.
And she believes President-elect Donald Trump may be the “most corruptible president” do date.
Amid ongoing uncertainty about what sort of barrier the 70-year-old will establish between his Oval Office duties and the vast myriad of businesses interests he and his family possess, Ms Teachout said she had spent much time researching the history of the conflict of interest laws. She did so for her 2014 book Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United.
Ms Teachout said that this week, Mr Trump’s transition team had suggested a new idea - that the blind trust many have urged him to establish to avoid a possible conflict of interest, may not actually be “blind” after all.
“It would allow Trump to keep any eye on how his businesses are doing. All this means that when Trump becomes president, he and his family could still be getting payments and favours from his company’s foreign clients - from China to Georgia to the Philippines - who often have interests at odds with America’s,” she wrote in Politico.
“It also means that Trump threatens to be the most corruptible president in American history.”
Mr Trump has insisted that the US Constitution does not say anything about the business interests of the president, even though it does refer to the conflict of interest of government officials. Earlier this year, Mr Trump told the New York Times that in this regard, “the law is totally on my side”.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to inquiries on Thursday.
Mr Trump has previously said that his children would continue to run the Trump business empire while he served as president - something many observers said would also not be a “blind trust”. Earlier this month, it was reported that his daughter, Ivanka, is move into the White House with her father and occupy the office normally reserved for the first lady.
“In research for my book Corruption in America, which documents the early history of conflict of interest law, I found many ways in which money has been used to win power,” wrote Ms Ms Teachout.
“But there has been no other president who was so vulnerable to corruption by outside business interests as Trump now is.”
She added: “Since the early days of the country, presidents have gone out of their way to distance themselves from even the appearance of conflicts of interest.
“Not only does Trump’s decision to keep his businesses violate the foreign bribery clause of the Constitution (also known as the emoluments clause), but with that violation, Trump is upending 240 years of tradition and a core conviction of the founders: that a stable, safe, representative republic depends on protecting against the foreign corruption of our officeholders.”
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