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This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: No, seriously, you should stay at my hotel

Pressuring the Kuwaiti embassy to stay at his hotel. Trump's gonna make so much money


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Matthew Rozsa
December 24, 2016 4:30PM (UTC)

It wouldn't be a week in the December 2016 news cycle without more reports of Donald Trump's conflicts of interest. And we're off!

The Kuwaiti embassy gets a lesson in Donald Trump diplomacy

Despite hosting its annual National Day celebration at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, the Embassy of Kuwait allegedly canceled its plans and rescheduled the event for the Trump International Hotel after allegedly being pressured by the Trump Organization, according to a story by ThinkProgress on Monday.

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In a phone conversation with the site, Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah confirmed that the National Day event had been moved. Although he denied having been pressured into making that decision, he eventually acknowledged that he had "lots of friends" and "may have" spoken to someone from the Trump Organization after the election.

For Trump's sake, there'd better not be more to this story, because —

The Stock Act of 2012 could pose a lot of problems for the president-elect

"By walking onto the inaugural platform outside the Capitol and putting his hand on a Bible on Jan. 20, Donald Trump may be stepping closer to committing a felony than he ever imagined when he launched his unlikely bid to become the nation’s 45th president," The Huffington Post wrote on Wednesday.

When the Stock Act was passed in 2012, it prohibited the president, members of Congress, and senior executive branch officials from using insider knowledge to personally profit.

"The Stock Act bars the President, the Vice President, and all executive branch employees from: using nonpublic information for private profit; engaging in insider trading; or intentionally influencing an employment decision or practice of a private entity solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation," wrote the director of the federal Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, in a letter explaining how he officially guides Congress on these matters.

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This means that, despite the president-elect's infamous claim that conflict-of-interest laws don't apply to him, he cannot use any information that he has at his disposal by virtue of being president to personally profit. One could argue that pressuring the Kuwaiti Embassy into throwing a party at his hotel falls into this category. Certainly it means that the president-elect cannot use the copious intelligence that comes across his desk, and which can drastically impact global markets, to advance the numerous business interests from which he has yet to divest himself. The legal consequences of failing to do so are unclear because the Stock Act has never been tested -- but impeachment is certainly plausible.

Trump's choice for treasury secretary has plenty of conflicts of his own

Steven Mnuchin is well known for preferring the company of hedge fund managers, as The New York Times wrote on Monday. That is troubling enough for a prospective treasury secretary in its own right, as is Mnuchin's history as a Goldman Sachs executive and his creation of OneWest Bank, but the New York Times piece drew attention to a little-known aspect of Mnuchin's past — a mysterious Delaware company that he owns, Steven T. Mnuchin Inc. It hasn't been reported outside of official records, so all that's known about it is that Mnuchin created the company before Goldman Sachs went public, that it had a Goldman Sachs mailing address and at least one Goldman Sachs director, and that Mnuchin's representative Barney Keller says it "hasn't made any new investments since 2002."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Kuwait Steven Mnuchin

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