Thirty Democrats on Monday introduced legislation in both chambers of Congress that would subject Donald Trump to conflict-of-interest laws that currently exempt the president.
The bill has slim if any chance of advancing while Republicans control the House and Senate. But it gives Democrats a substantive counterattack for Trump’s planned Wednesday press conference, where he is expected to discuss a long-promised plan to address potential conflicts between his private holdings and public role as commander-in-chief.
Previewed last month by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and four other Democrats, the ethics legislation would mandate that Trump, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, and their successors as president and vice president divest any conflicted holdings into an independently managed blind trust that would manage their sale. The measure defines conflicted assets for presidents and vice presidents using the existing standard for executive branch employees, which broadly bars involvement in issues where officials have a financial interest.
The bill also includes a proposal by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to require presidents and presidential nominees to disclose three years’ worth of tax returns — a response to Trump’s refusal to abide by campaign precedent and release his tax information during his campaign.
The bill also would require executive-branch appointees to recuse themselves from decisions that would directly affect the financial holdings of presidents or their spouses and would state symbolically that any violation of conflict-of-interest rules by a president would run afoul of the Constitution’s impeachment clause.
In the Senate, 23 Democrats joined Warren as original cosponsors of the bill, including the ranking members of eight committees. In the House, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) led five other original cosponsors, three of them ranking members of committees.