Some in the media are claiming that President-elect Donald Trump needs to put all of his private business interests into a blind trust before taking office. They claim that if he doesn’t, he would risk being in violation of Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They point to its prohibition on certain forms of conflict of interest. But what does this clause actually say? Well, let’s see. It says, “no person holding any office of profit or trust … shall, without the consent of Congress, accept … any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
Our Founding Fathers obviously didn’t want our president or members of Congress being bribed by foreign entities in the form of gifts, titles, or whatever. That, and that alone, is why they wrote the Emoluments Clause. It does not address the business holdings of any government official, including the president. It doesn’t even address his foreign business interests. Therefore, it appears that there is no constitutional prohibition on a sitting president owning any business, even one that operates in or provides goods and services to other countries. So, despite what the talking heads might be telling us, this is not, in of itself, a conflict of interest.
However, a problem would arise if Trump, either personally or through his business interests, were to begin accepting special favors and/or anything of value from foreign entities. But, so far, no one has provided any kind of hard proof that this is likely to happen. All we get is speculation and false claims that simply maintaining business interests while in office would automatically create a conflict of interest for our incoming president.