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GOP On Trump's Potential Conflicts Of Interest: Give Him Time To Sort It Out

Democrats are already calling for Congress to act on potential conflicts of interest related to Trump's sprawling business empire. But Republicans say they aren't concerned and believe Trump's lawyers will figure out a way forward by the time he's sworn in.

Posted on November 29, 2016, at 4:08 p.m. ET

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump's business entanglements have raised several conflict of interest questions in recent days, but congressional Republicans believe those will get sorted out before the billionaire is sworn in.

"I'm sure his transition team is taking a look at all those issues as we move forward to Jan. 20," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "I know they're considering the issue that you raised, and we'll see what they recommend."

Democrats are already calling on their Republican colleagues to take action on the issue, following reports of Trump and his children — who will be running the family business after he becomes president — meeting with foreign business partners and world leaders in private meetings.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin has proposed a resolution calling on Trump to "convert his assets to simple, conflict-free holdings, adopt blind trusts, or take other equivalent measures." And House Democrats have asked the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a letter to investigate potential conflicts of interests.

"Remind me, is he sworn in yet?," responded House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy when asked about the letter. "But now the Democrats already want to investigate him before he's even sworn in."

"Everybody take a deep breath," McCarthy continued, proclaiming full confidence that Donald McGahn, whom Trump selected to be his White House Counsel, would resolve any potential conflicts of interest caused by the President-elect's business. "I'm sure he'll get whatever you need to have happen based on someone coming in that's successful in business."

The House Ethics Committee affords new members some time to rearrange their business interests when they were elected, McCarthy said, adding that Trump should have the same leeway.

"I don't think we expected him the first day to be able to change his entire business structure," he said.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who has been a vocal critic of Trump, also said Trump's team still had time to figure things out. "They've said that they will find a way to separate that," Flake said. "Give them time."

Another Trump critic, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, was less conciliatory. Graham said a blind trust would make sense, so the president-elect could "focus on governing." But added that ultimately it was up to Trump and his White House counsel to figure it out.

Other Republicans also said it's too early to push for a blind trust or take any congressional action.

"We're presupposing the current state. I don't think that's the right way to think about it," said North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. "When he becomes president, if there are entanglements, they'll be subject to due diligence to the committees with jurisdiction."

And voters knew about the difficulties Trump would have in separating himself from his business ventures when they voted for him, said Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.

"I'm more than happy to give the president elect and his team more time to try and grapple with a pretty difficult issue," Johnson said. "American voters understood that they're electing somebody with vast holdings throughout the world."


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