Office of Government Ethics gushes over Trump move in bizarre tweetstorm

The Office of Government Ethics launched into a lengthy tweetstorm Wednesday at President-elect Donald Trump, appearing to praise the Manhattan billionaire for announcing he would cede control of his business empire.

Trump announced in a series of Wednesday morning tweets that he would announce his plan to leave his business “in total” to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest as president. He said legal documents were being drafted, but did not specify how he would hand off control.

Previously, Trump said he would pass his business to his children in what he deemed a “blind trust,” although passing a business to family members would not constitute a blind trust, which is run by someone who is independent of the business owner.

The verified Twitter account of the Office of Government Ethics posted a slew of tweets praising Trump for his “divestiture,” though he did not say anything about selling off his investments Wednesday.

In the series of tweets, it seemed to imitate some of Trump’s famous Twitter tone — posting, for instance, “Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, very good for America!”

Read the tweets below:

In a statement following the tweetstorm, an OGE spokesman said the organisation was “excited” to read Trump’s early-morning tweets.

“Like everyone else, we were excited to read the president-elect’s Twitter feed indicating he wants to be free of conflicts of interest,” the spokesman, Seth Jaffe, wrote. “OGE applauds that goal, which is consistent with an opinion OGE issued in 1983. Divesture resolves conflicts of interest in a way that transferring control does not. We don’t know the details of their plan, but we are willing and eager to help them with it.”

An OGE representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider asking for further clarification about what it called the “divestiture.”

Read Trump’s tweets from earlier Wednesday below:

Trump’s ability to separate his business ties from the presidency has come under scrutiny throughout the transition process. His daughter Ivanka, who stands to be a leader in taking over his company, sat in on a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and was on a congratulatory phone call between the president-elect and Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

Trump also met in his Trump Tower office with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded apartment complex near Mumbai. The three men posed with Trump in a picture posted to Twitter.

According to a recent Washington Post story, at least 111 separate Trump companies have conducted business in 18 countries across South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Pointing specifically to a Trump Towers project in Istanbul, something Trump at one point said could present “a little conflict of interest,” The Post wrote that “policy and ethics experts are scrambling to assess the potential dangers of public rule by a leader with a vast web of private business deals.”

Yet as recently as last week, it was unclear as to how Trump would go about navigating the situation. In an interview with The New York Times, he said that “in theory” he could run both his company and the country “perfectly” because the president is exempt from some conflict-of-interest rules. But he said he would nevertheless phase out his role in his organisation.

“My company’s so unimportant to me relative to what I’m doing,” he said.

The biggest legal risk Trump faces as a result of his business ties is a passage in the Constitution known as the emoluments clause, which forbids government officials from receiving gifts from a foreign government.

As The Post noted, a payment from a foreign official or state-owned company to a Trump hotel or other company bearing his name could potentially violate the clause. So could favourable legislation or treatment overseas from a government aimed at benefiting a Trump property.

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