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 (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
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 (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
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.”
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) November 22, 2016
“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 (@sashachavkin) November 22, 2016
Well, at least the impeachment will help settle whether presidents can, indeed, have conflicts of interest or not — Katie Putz (@LadyPutz) November 22, 2016
Well, there you go. Trump doesn’t believe anything he has done so far constitutes a conflict of interest, bc he thinks he can’t have one. https://t.co/OmjDoaakJD — erica orden (@eorden) November 22, 2016
@maggieNYT Holy shit! Nixon’s back!
— James Ruby (@jamesrubyworks) November 22, 2016
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 (@leyawn) November 22, 2016
Others reasoned Trump is simply oblivious to what a conflict of interest actually entails.
A conflict of interest is when your interests conflict. Not getting in trouble for it does not represent absence of conflict. — Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) November 22, 2016