Wednesday 7 December 2016

President-elect bows to pressure over his empire

Rachael Alexander

Published 01/12/2016 | 02:30

President-elect Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
President-elect Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump said that he was leaving his business empire to focus on being the nation's 45th president, bowing to pressure to avoid potential conflicts of interest between governing and profiting in the private sector.

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"I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to make America great again," he said on twitter.

"While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses."

He said legal documents were "being crafted which take me completely out of business operations," he said, adding the presidency is "a far more important task!"

Meanwhile, former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin, Trump's former campaign finance director, confirmed that Trump had picked him as treasury secretary and that billionaire investor Wilbur Ross had been chosen for commerce secretary.

Trump called on conservatives with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street to fill out key Cabinet roles as he continued to deliberate over his secretary of state.

He also held lengthy discussions with Mitt Romney over a dinner of sautéed frog legs in a restaurant in one of his Trump hotels. The choice of Jean-Georges, a three-starred Michelin restaurant overlooking Central Park popular with New York high society, was the clearest indication yet that Mr Trump may select Mr Romney as his chief diplomat.

After the dinner, Mr Romney offered words of praise for Mr Trump that contrasted sharply with his past criticisms, saying he had been "impressed" by his acceptance speech and subsequent preparations for office, calling it "a wonderful evening".

"I think you're going to see America continue to lead the world in this century," Romney said, adding he had "increasing hope that president-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us to that better future".

The former Republican nominee and the brash real estate tycoon were joined by the latter's incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus.

It was the second face-to-face meeting in 10 days between Trump and the 69-year-old former Massachusetts governor, who savaged him as a "conman" and a "fraud" during the election campaign.

Mr Trump's secretary of state will be America's public face to the world who could face the delicate task of reassuring foreign allies alarmed by the president-elect's rhetoric on the campaign trail.

Mr Romney's distrust of Russia - at odds with a president-elect who has spoken admiringly of Vladimir Putin - and the respect he generally commands have been touted as qualities by establishment Americans.

It remains unclear how influential the secretary of state would be on crafting foreign policy with Mr Trump loyalist and retired general Michael Flynn already nominated as national security adviser.

Besides Mr Romney, other potential candidates are celebrated general yet scandal-clad former CIA director David Petraeus, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Earlier Mr Trump met Corker (64), who said that he thought Trump had narrowed the choice "to a very small group of people" and it was important that he selected somebody on the same wave length.

Mr Petraeus, who met the president-elect on Monday, has by far the most foreign policy experience, but he was forced to resign from the CIA after showing classified material to his mistress Paula Broadwell.

Helping Mr Trump claim success on his election pledge to save American jobs from going overseas, Indiana air-conditioning company, Carrier Corp, announced it had reached a deal with Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence "to keep close to 1,000 jobs".

Mr Trump had tweeted on America's Thanksgiving holiday last week that he was seeking to persuade the company to stay in the United States.

Irish Independent

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