Donald Trump met with the New York Times editorial board Tuesday for an on-record meeting about plans for his transition and upcoming administration.
The far-ranging discussion, which began with the president-elect lamenting the New York Times for it’s “unfair” coverage of his campaign and insisting he’d like to improve his relationship with the paper to “make his job easier,” also hit upon issues including Trump’s neo-Nazi supporters (“it’s not a group I want to energize”) and his relationship with Republican leaders (“right now, they’re in love with me”).
But the most pressing concern that arose over the meeting involved potential conflicts of interest arising from Trump’s unprecedented business investments in the United States and across the globe. During the campaign, Trump promised to hand off his business to his children in a pseudo-“blind trust,” but in the days since his election it’s become clear the president-elect has no plans to detach himself from his personal interests.
Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world.Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1479780861.0
During the meeting, the New York Times asked about potential conflicts of interest stemming from his newfound role as president. In response, the president-elect brushed aside concerns, insisting the law is “totally on [his] side.”
Trump on his businesses/conflict q's: "The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest."— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman)1479839152.0
Naturally, Twitter took issue with Trump’s characterization of the presidency as immune from conflicts of interest, with some pointing out that his sentiment echoes that of a former Republican president:
Trump: "The law is totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest." Nixon: https://t.co/PGATUNdDy2— Jack Smith IV (@Jack Smith IV)1479839611.0
"The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest," Trump tells NY Times. https://t.co/pTl5zJc41r— Sasha Chavkin (@Sasha Chavkin)1479840276.0
Well, at least the impeachment will help settle whether presidents can, indeed, have conflicts of interest or not— Katie Putz (@Katie Putz)1479839604.0
Well, there you go. Trump doesn't believe anything he has done so far constitutes a conflict of interest, bc he t… https://t.co/fdbK2kBtkg— erica orden (@erica orden)1479840377.0
Others noted that Trump’s emphasis on his personal brand is inherently a conflict of interest.
reporter: people are worried about conflicts of interest trump (wearing new balances, handing out trump steaks): what do those words mean— leon (@leon)1479840777.0
Trump in his conversation with @NYTimes regarding his potential business conflicts of interest (Note the order of h… https://t.co/1izGFqFP56— Jordan Malter (@Jordan Malter)1479840213.0
Others reasoned Trump is simply oblivious to what a conflict of interest actually entails.
He either doesn't understand conflicts of interest or he doesn't care. https://t.co/vfGlpMH92Q— Jamil Smith (@Jamil Smith)1479839674.0
Right. No conflict of interest here. Moving on. https://t.co/TDhtlCEYjb— Stephanie Salmon (@Stephanie Salmon)1479839510.0
Totally no conflict of interest here. https://t.co/CvfN5OaKUZ— Gissur Simonarson 🇮🇸🏴 (@Gissur Simonarson 🇮🇸🏴)1479839535.0