Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has cosponsored H.R. 6340, the “Presidential Accountability Act,” which would extend conflict of interest provisions to the President and Vice President of the United States.
Federal conflict of interest law prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in government business in which they stand to gain profit. To avoid these conflicts and eliminate criminal liability, employees are allowed to place their assets in a qualified blind trust. However, as it currently stands, the President and Vice President are exempt from this law. H.R. 6340 would address these conflicts by extending a tailored version of the law that governs executive branch employees to the President and Vice President.
“In order to maintain the trust of the American people, it is imperative for the President and Vice President to have no business related conflicts of interest that may sway their decision making while in office,” Engel said. “Every President in the modern era has placed their assets in a blind-trust prior to taking office, yet they have done so of their own volition. If there are individuals at the White House who are legally bound to take steps in order to avoid a conflict of interest, why should we accept any less from our Commander-in-Chief?
“President-elect Trump’s sprawling business portfolio, which includes a significant amount of overseas interests, presents a potential obstacle to governance too significant to ignore. Since the election we have already seen instances where the President-elect’s business partners from India have paid courtesy calls to Trump Tower. Clearly, these types of interactions pose a problem. Whether or not President-elect Trump agrees to divest of his business interests, Congress should pass this bill to ensure full accountability from our nation’s highest office.”