U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is separating himself from his global business empire by transferring his assets into a trust and putting his two oldest sons in charge, an arrangement that watchdogs said was inadequate to prevent potential conflicts of interest in office.
At a news conference, Trump said he would resign from all positions overseeing hotels, golf courses and hundreds of other businesses to help ensure that he will not consciously take actions as president that would benefit him personally.
Trump, a Republican, is under pressure to distance himself from his businesses before he moves into the White House on Jan. 20. Trump says that unlike other government officials, he is not required to steer clear of conflicts of interest.
“I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to,” Trump said.
Ethics experts said the arrangement did not go far enough.
“Mr. Trump’s ill-advised course will precipitate scandal and corruption,” said Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics adviser under Democratic President Barack Obama.
Trump appears to be still involved with his business while preparing to take office, saying he had turned down a $2 billion development deal in Dubai he had been offered over the weekend.
“I didn’t have to turn it down because as you know I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president,” he said.
“DAMAC can confirm that the discussions took place as stated in the media briefing but the proposals were declined ..,” a spokesman for DAMAC, the company involved, told Reuters by email.
Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for Trump, said profits generated at Trump’s hotels by foreign governments will be donated to the U.S. Treasury.
The Trump Organization will not enter into any new overseas deals while Trump is president and will only undertake domestic projects after a company ethics adviser has approved them, said Dillon, a lawyer at Morgan Lewis who focuses on tax and ethics.
Trump will only know of those deals if he hears about them through the news media, Dillon said.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is to have no further involvement with management authority in the group, she said. Trump has appointed her husband, Jared Kushner, to a senior advisory role in the White House.
Since Trump sold all his stocks last year, the Trump trust will hold only business assets and liquid assets such as cash, Dillon said.
Many other ethics experts, including the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, have urged Trump to completely divest or set up a blind trust for his assets. Dillon said that was not a realistic possibility and would hurt him financially.
In a blind trust, the owner does now know what the holdings are or how their assets are managed. Trump’s oldest sons will be running his business, so the arrangement does not meet that standard.
Trump was aided in setting up the trust by lawyer Fred Fielding, a former White House counsel to Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
Remaining debt will stay in place and will be dealt with during the ordinary course of business, Dillon said.
— By Steve Holland, Andy Sullivan and Emily Stephenson
Puerto Ricans wash clothes in rivers as utilities remain offline
Large parts of the U.S. territory are still without running water or electricity and are facing food shortages almost three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall there on September 20.
Still struggling without water or electricity, some of the families washing their clothes in the Anon River in ponce on the south side of the island.
They just say they are making the journey a family outing.
“So we’re taking advantage of the time to wash clothes because we have to do it and so we’re spending time with the kids and with the family. We brought stuff for a barbecue and we’re enjoying the day,” said Alexis Vega.
“We’re looking at it from a positive point of view and spending a lot of time with family. You have to do it. We have to. It’s going back to olden days,” said Heidi Vazquez.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday in the US amid questions over whether his administration has acted with enough urgency in helping distribute emergency supplies throughout the island. — Reuters
Korea says “rocket man” striking rockets to U.S. is inevitable
North Korea said on Saturday that firing its rockets at the U.S. Mainland was “inevitable” after U.S. President Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader “rocket man”, in a further escalation of rhetoric between the two leaders.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s remarks before the United Nations General Assembly came hours after U.S. Airforce B-1B Lancer bombers flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.
“Through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force,” said the minister.
“It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces,” he added.
On Saturday, U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea in a show of force and was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any U.S. Fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon said.
Also on Saturday, the North’s official news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said thousands of people attended an anti-U.S. rally at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, in support of the recent statement of Kim Jong Un considering the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States. — Reuters
North Korea hints at Pacific H-bomb test
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un makes a statement regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech at the U.N. general assembly, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 22, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS
North Korea struck back at U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to destroy it, with Kim Jong Un warning of the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” and his foreign minister suggesting that could include testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific ocean.
“[Personally I think] it should be a hydrogen bomb test on the ground of an unprecedented scale,” said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
Kim said in the statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that U.S. threat to “totally destroy” the north in his U.N. speech on Tuesday confirmed Pyongyang’s nuclear programme has been “the correct path.”
Trump had warned the North Korean leader on Tuesday that the United States if threatened, would “totally destroy” the country and mocked Kim as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
North Korea’s foreign minister reacted and called Trump’s U.N. address ‘sound of a dog barking’.
“If [Trump] was thinking about surprising us with the sound of a dog barking then he is clearly dreaming,” said the foreign minister.
It can be recalled that North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations Ja Song Nam exited the hall just as Trump walked on stage on Tuesday to deliver his speech.
“His remarks have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last,” said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech,” said the North Korean leader.— Reuters