Will Donald McGahn Make Donald Trump Give Up His Business? The White House Counsel Has A Big Job
If you're Donald McGahn, Donald Trump's newly named White House counsel, your to-do list just got unimaginably long. For much the interested public, though, the question of what Donald McGahn will do about Donald Trump's conflicts of interest is paramount. This is a president-elect who comes in owning a real estate empire that stretches across the globe, and yet he doesn't seem to see how that poses any potential issues for his new job. In short, the position that McGahn is stepping into will not be an easy one.
The problems many outside observers imagine stem from the idea that Trump's business ties and properties in the U.S. and in numerous foreign countries could push him to act in ways that would benefit his company. Regardless of whether that would be in the best interests the U.S. or not, it's unconstitutional for the president to benefit monetarily from that highest office. For now, Trump has been playing directly into these fears by doing things like meeting with business partners in India, refusing to transfer the company into a blind trust, and inviting his daughter Ivanka, who will now be one of those ostensibly running the company, into a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Trump, for his part, doesn't seem to understand what the problem is. But McGahn, as a political lawyer who was once chairman of the Federal Election Commission, most certainly will. Trump shifting control of the company over to his children does not mean that he would not still want to act in ways that would make it succeed, and it does not bode well that he is already involving his daughter in political meetings.
Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, who served as Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively, have now gone so far as to say that the Electoral College must refuse to elect Trump if he does not shift ownership of his company over to a blind trust. Their argument, which has clear backing, is that Trump's business interests would be in direct violation of the Constitution from Inauguration Day onward.
How McGahn will act to combat the issue is definitely in question. As FEC chairman, McGahn was quite comfortable with more money in politics, and he has not yet released any statements on how he intends to deal with the matter. Just to go out on a limb, though, Trump would probably not hire anyone who had not demonstrated some kind of loyalty — so it's likely that McGahn will try to defend his boss against the criticism sure to come his way.