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CNN Interviews Matthew Sanderson on Trump's Potential Business Conflicts

November 17, 2016, CNN

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition is bringing into question possibly the largest conflict of interest issues involving a newly elected President.   With over 500 business interests, any favorable government decision has the potential to enrich Mr. Trump and his family members during his tenure as President of the United State of America.  Caplin & Drysdale’s Matthew T. Sanderson, a Member of the firm’s Political Law Group, discusses this and more during an interview with CNN anchor Pamela Brown.  Please visit this link to view the interview.

Transcript of the interview with CNN anchor Pamela Brown.  Please visit CNN’s website to view the transcript.

Let's do a deeper dive. We have Matthew Sanderson's take on these possible conflicts of interest. Matthew is an attorney who has experience working on the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Rand Paul.

Earlier I had mentioned Trump's daughter showing off her line of jewelry in the TV interview. I was talking about this, Ivanka Trump wearing this bracelet that I think we're going to show on "60 Minutes" during that interview that we saw on Sunday. And then later her fine jewelry company promoted the bracelet for sale. Ten grand, by the way.

Matthew, this is one of several blurred lines that the Trump family is dealing with right now. How do you see them handling this complicated business problem that, to my knowledge, we've never seen before?

MATTHEW SANDERSON, POLITICAL LAW ATTORNEY: Yes, it's a -it's a real issue. And, initially, in the - earlier in the election cycle, the Trump campaign came out and said that they released the personal financial disclosure form of Mr. Trump, which lists all of his assets, and they said this is the - the largest ever and most tremendous personal financial disclosure that had ever been released in history.

And now that the Trump campaign - now that the campaign is over, what the Trump transition is dealing with is probably the largest ever and most tremendous thicket of conflict of interest issues, at least in recent - in the recent past.

BROWN: And as we heard Cristina say, handing over everything to his children doesn't necessarily solve all the problems here, right?

SANDERSON: No, because he - he would personally benefit, his net worth would increase with any government decision. Any favorable government decision that happens. So if the government of Azerbaijan decides to give one of his properties a subsidy, if the GSA decides to renegotiate a lease in his favor, there's some real thick - there's a real thicket of conflict of interest issues there for him to deal with.

BROWN: And as we just mentioned, you have guided many presidential candidates and advised them. How would you guide the Trump team right now through all of this? What's your advice to them?

SANDERSON: Well, I think it will inevitably involve selling off a number of his assets, particularly those that are more troublesome. And we mentioned a couple of times during this segment, foreign- located assets. And so those are the ones that are most troublesome. I would expect that his lawyers will advise him to at least sell off those and place the proceeds in a blind trust. He should at least do that, otherwise he's going to be dealing with the steady trickle of these types of stories throughout his presidency. And one of the things that the Trump lawyers mention so far is that there are lots of examples across the world of world leaders also holding active businesses. Well, the problem is that none of those comparables are very - are very valuable to Trump. They're detrimental to his political standing because we're talk - the examples there are dictators in post-Soviet republics. And this is not a two-bit clubtopocracy (ph). This is the United States of America. And I think Americans have come to expect that we shouldn't have to question whether a policy decision is meant to enrich our president.

BROWN: Unchartered territory in many ways. Thank you so much, Matthew Sanderson, we do appreciate it.


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