During this morning’s dumpster-fire of a press conference, President-elect Donald Trump had a law firm called Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represent him and explain to the media just how Trump’s decision to give control over his businesses to his sons but not divest himself from his holdings somehow doesn’t present a conflict of interests.
To that end, as he explained a few moments ago, he directed me and my colleagues at the law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius to design a structure for his business empire that would completely isolate him from the management of the company. He further instructed that we build in protections that will assure the American people the decisions he makes and the actions he takes as president are for their benefit and not to support his financial interests.
The conflicts of interest laws simply do not apply to the president or the vice president. And they are not required to separate themselves from their financial assets. The primary conflicts of interest statute, since some have questioned this, is section 18, USC 208. It is simply inapplicable by its terms.
What Trump and Dillion failed to reveal was that the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius was just last year awarded the Russia Law Firm Of The Year Award:
MOSCOW, May 2, 2016: Morgan Lewis has been recognized by Chambers & Partners’ 2016 Chambers Europe guide as Russia Law Firm of the Year. The prestigious honor was announced at the publication’s recent annual awards dinner in London, where firms from 24 countries were recognized.
Morgan Lewis’s Moscow office provides full-service business representation for clients, including advice on corporate and finance matters; mergers and acquisitions; transactional finance; litigation and international arbitration; energy and natural resources projects; real estate property transactions; labor and employment issues; immigration; and a wide range of regulatory matters. The Moscow team includes seasoned lawyers and specialists with experience throughout the region, including in Kazakhstan (working with Morgan Lewis colleagues in Almaty and Astana) and other countries of the former Soviet Union, including in the Central Asia and Caspian regions.
While Morgan Lewis is an international law firm that does business across the globe, for Trump to be using a law firm with deep business connections to Russia – and by extension to the Russian regime, which is involved in all business that takes place within the Federation so the ruling oligarchs get their cut – is an extremely poor look at a press conference which only minutes before had Trump denying his connections to Russia and downplaying accusations that he is being blackmailed by the Russian government.
If Donald Trump really has no connections to Russia – which he does – he’s doing a godawful job of hiding it.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.