President-elect Donald Trump, saying he “has the right” to still do business deals, told Fox News he’s turning down “billions of dollars of deals” to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
“I’m not going to be doing deals at all,” Trump said in an interview with Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday.” “I have the right to do it. I just don’t want to do it.”
Trump also said he turned down “seven deals with one big player, great player” last week “because I thought it could be perceived as a conflict of interest.”
Government ethics experts have raised concerns about conflicts posed by Trump’s business interests. He owns or has a position in more than 500 companies, according to a CNN analysis.
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In the interview on Fox News Sunday, Trump also said he won’t have “anything to do with the management” of his company. But he suggested three of his adult children would play a large role in his businesses — something some experts have said would not address problems with conflicts.
“My executives will run it with my children. It’s a big company, it’s a great company. But I’m going to have nothing to do with management,” Trump said. “When I ran, everybody knew that I was a very big owner of real estate all over the world.”
Trump is expected to hold a news conference on Thursday and give details about how he plans to separate himself from his businesses.
Last week, he also claimed to have sold all of his stock in June because he was worried about conflicts.
Although federal law doesn’t require Trump to divest or sell what he owns, many experts say Trump has an ethical obligation to give up business interests that could factor into how he makes decisions as president.
Some government officials appear to think full divestiture is Trump’s best decision, too. Last month, the Office of Government Ethics sent a burst of tweets cheering Trump should he fully divest his businesses.
The tweets, sent after Trump announced his forthcoming press conference, said the “only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest.”
The ethics office examines the financial disclosures of executive branch officials and works with them to avoid conflicts between their business holdings and their public responsibility.
“@realDonaldTrump – we told your counsel we’d sing your praises if you divested,” the agency tweeted. “we meant it.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published December 11, 2016: 10:08 AM ET