NEW YORK, NY (12/15/2016)(readMedia)-- Today, on the day that President-elect Donald Trump promised a press conference to discuss how he will "remove" himself from his businesses, activists across the county delivered over 400,000 petition signatures to Trump properties and Senator Pat Toomey's office regarding Trump's conflicts of interests.
Six groups gathered the petitions delivered today. Common Cause, Every Voice, and Public Citizen circulated petitions demanding that Trump fully sell his businesses and put his assets into a truly blind trust. CREDO Action and MoveOn.org gathered petitions demanding the House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz begin a congressional investigation into Trump's financial arrangements and potential conflicts of interest, while Rootstrikers called on Congress to pass the Presidential Accountability Act that would require Trump put his assets into a true blind trust before taking office.
Since announcing the press conference regarding the future of his businesses over Twitter, Trump has postponed it until January, leaving the public in the dark about his plans to address concerns that he may put his business interests before the American people.
Activists rallied outside Trump properties and delivered petitions to Trump Tower in New York, Trump Hotel in DC, Trump Tower in Chicago, and Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Activists also delivered petitions to Senator Pat Toomey's office in Philadelphia to urge him to use his congressional powers to address Trump's conflicts of interest.
Statements from the organizers:
"It is imperative that President-elect Trump sell his assets and put them into a true blind trust instead of asking Americans to blindly trust him," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY who spoke outside Trump Tower in New York. "We can not have a leader use his public position to personally enrich himself: that's the textbook definition of corruption."
"Trump is poised to violate the foreign bribery clause of the Constitution on his first day in office, a violation that could have serious consequences for American foreign policy," said anti-corruption activist Zephyr Teachout who joined protestors in New York. "Unless he sells his assets, President-elect Trump will make America unsafe again by leaving our national security vulnerable to foreign bribery."
"This is a question of priorities. Does the next President of the United States believe in putting the national interest or his personal interests first? Nothing short of selling off his businesses and let his holdings be managed by an independent trustee will be enough," said Adam Smith, Communications Director at Every Voice, who spoke to the crowd in New York. "Not only is it the only constitutional option, It's the only way to reassure voters he's working for them."
"Mr. Trump must fully divest and create a blind trust or it is unavoidable that his family's business will be used by individuals, corporations and foreign governments to buy influence and curry favor with the Trump White House," said Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause Vice President for Policy and Litigation, who spoke outside Trump Hotel in DC. "This is the way business is done in many nations in the world ruled by despots, but it is not way business or democracy is conducted in the United States."
"Not only does Trump bring unprecedented conflicts of interest into the next administration, so do his nominees for cabinet posts," said Craig Holman, Ph.D., Public Citizen Government Affairs Lobbyist, who spoke to the gathered activists in DC. "If Trump fails to address these conflicts of interest, his is likely to be the most scandal-ridden administration in memory."
"Trump's massive web of potential corruption is on a never-before-seen scale," said CREDO Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson. "Because he is still hiding the full extent of his business entanglements, we have no way of knowing if he is under the thumb of foreign interests, whether his business interests overseas run counter to American foreign policy or whether he is merely using the presidency to enrich himself."
"With a global network of businesses, there are simply too many opportunities for foreign leaders to leverage these relationships to gain favor with Donald Trump, and too many opportunities for Trump to use the power of the Presidency to influence these arrangements and build upon his family's personal fortune," explained Justin Krebs, campaign director for MoveOn.org. "The American people need a President who makes decisions that are in the best interest of the country and its citizens, not the best interest of his family's businesses and assets. Congress should fully investigate President-elect Trump for any potential conflicts of interest that could put our national security and our economy in jeopardy and Trump needs to divest himself of his business entanglements. The President should have only one client: the American people."
"Trump has already abused the public trust by using his power as president-elect to benefit his business empire, and without fully divesting his assets into a true blind trust, Trump is poised to abuse the American presidency for his own personal profit," said Kate Kizer, Campaigner at Rootstrikers. "Trump's decision to cancel his announcement this week makes clear that it's up to Congress to force Donald Trump to end his conflicts of interest and prevent an unprecedented corruption of the presidency."
See photos and videos from each of the petition delivery events on their Facebook event pages:
• New York: https://www.facebook.com/events/380267772316127/
• Philadelphia: https://www.facebook.com/events/1717030775280109/
• Las Vegas: https://www.facebook.com/events/1748081488778489/