With less than a month until the inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump is still effectively the head of a huge international corporation that does business with foreign governments all over the world. An overwhelming majority of voters in Trump states think that’s a big problem.
Seventy-one percent of voters in red or purple states think that Trump should not be allowed to receive payments from foreign governments through his businesses while he is President, according to a poll conducted for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The poll surveyed 1,206 voters in 14 Trump-leaning states, all with Senate races coming up. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of the Center for American Progress) As self-reported by the respondents, 50 percent voted for Trump, and 41 percent voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Of voters who said that Trump shouldn’t be allowed to receive foreign payments while president, 54 percent said that Congress should take action to prevent it. Seventeen percent said Congress shouldn’t take action, and 11 percent weren’t sure.
Although Democrats are currently focused on the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia back cyber activity designed to tip the election’s scales in Trump’s favor, the poll showed that voters were even more likely to find Trump’s businesses a major problem. In contrast to the 71 percent disturbed by Trump’s foreign business dealings, 54 percent of those surveyed thought it was either very or fairly important for Congress to have an independent investigation into Russia’s influence on the election.
Trump promised a press conference in December to announce his plan to deal with his international businesses. Instead he postponed the conference until an undisclosed date in January and offered a couple of tweets, saying that he’d leave the running of his businesses to his adult sons, and that there would be “no new deals” while he’s in office.
Ethics experts have said that this plan does little, if anything, to address Trump’s issues. One of Trump’s Dubai business partners, Hussein Sajwani, also told NBC that he doesn’t think the moratorium on new deals will actually exist, and that he was confident that they would continue to grow their business together.
In Trump’s most recent financial disclosure, he listed business dealings in at least 25 countries. And as a luxury hotelier, his properties are practically designed to solicit and receive money from foreign governments.
Since the election, foreign governments have taken note. Diplomats are flocking to Trump’s new downtown DC hotel, and the property has hosted or is planned to host multiple events for foreign embassies previously held in other venues.
Trump has given no indication that he intends to fully divest from his businesses. Unless he sells his companies and puts the assets in a blind trust, he will be in direct violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, according to top ethics lawyers to both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.