In his first press conference since he won the 2016 US presidential election two months ago, Donald Trump declared himself free of all conflicts of interest.
But he didn’t say that he’s putting his business in a blind trust, or otherwise divesting to keep his business interests separate from the presidency. Instead, Trump made the case, as he has a few times before, that no laws prevent him from running his business on the side while being president. The only thing keeping him from doing so, he said, is that he doesn’t feel like it:
I could actually run my business. I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that, if I wanted to. I’d be the only one that would be able to do that. You can’t do that in any other capacity. But as a president, I could run the Trump organization—great, great company—and I could run the country. I’d do a very good job, but I don’t want to do that.
Trump’s argument is strikingly similar to US president Richard Nixon’s claim, in the years after the Watergate scandal, that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Trump is essentially saying that the US presidency is exempt from the notion of conflict of interest.
In the video above, Trump details how any decisions he makes regarding his own business interests during his presidency will be a matter of his own choice, not of law. He also explains that he won’t be releasing his tax returns because, he says, the American people “don’t care at all” whether or not he does.