In less than a week, America’s 538 electors will meet to finalize the results of the 2016 presidential election.
As President-Elect Donald Trump prepares to take over the White House in January, Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead has risen to over 2.8 million, winning 48.2 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 46.2 percent.
Some electors are refusing to vote for Trump regardless of how their state voted. One such so-called “faithless elector” is Texas Republican Chris Suprun. Suprun has cited a Federalist paper by Alexander Hamilton that says electors must determine that the president is qualified and independent from foreign influence.
Trump’s independence from foreign influence has already come into question several times, including potential corruption regarding his businesses. Vox has detailed all of Trump’s present-known conflicts of interest:
Argentina: Three days after the election, the YY Development Group, the developer of a long-delayed Trump tower in Argentina, announced that the project would move forward. A controversy immediately erupted about whether Trump had put in a word for the project with the president of Argentina, also a personal friend of his, in their post-election call, as some local journalists reported. The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, denies the conversation took place.
Bahrain: The Kingdom of Bahrain is hosting the celebration of its 45th national day at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, DC, which held a reception for foreign diplomats selling them on the recently opened property.
Brazil: A Trump hotel in Rio de Janeiro is part of a broad investigation into whether two pension funds that invested in the project were bribed to do so.
China: The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China’s state-owned bank, is the single largest leaseholder in Trump Tower, and the lease is scheduled to expire while Trump is in office. One of Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to get tough on China, including labeling it a “currency manipulator” and putting a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. But if Trump is in a business relationship with China’s state-owned bank, that gives the country some leverage over him in return.
Georgia: A Trump Tower in Batumi, Georgia, long stalled, suddenly began moving forward again after the election, the Washington Post reported. Like many Trump projects abroad, Trump was partnering with local developers, and the developer in this case said that the roadblocks did not require government help. But when the project was first announced, it had the enthusiastic backing of Georgia’s former president, a friend of Trump’s, the New York Times reported in 2011 — showing how foreign leaders can influence real estate development in their countries.
India: Trump has five projects currently underway in India, involving partners who are themselves closely tied to Indian politicians. That leads to a wide web of possible conflicts, but the New York Times laid out one of the clear ways Indian politicians could use it to curry favor. It’s common there for politicians to lean on bureaucrats and banks to ease the way for new developments through lending and permits, and Indian politicians could do this for the Trump family in hopes of gaining favor even if they’re not specifically asked to do so.
Ireland: A Trump golf course in Ireland is embroiled in a dispute about whether a sea wall is a threat to an environmentally protected snail. Environmentalists say they’re confident the board that oversees the dispute is immune to politics.
Japan: Ivanka Trump joined a meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump Tower, although Trump has her own business interests in Japan: She’s close to closing a business deal with Sanei International, a Japanese apparel company, the New York Times reported. The Japanese government, via a state-owned bank, is Sanei’s largest shareholder.
The Philippines: Jose E. B. Antonio, a real estate developer who partnered with Trump on the $150 million Trump Tower in Mataki City is now the country’s special envoy to the US. Although Antonio was named to the post before the election, the Philippines likely hopes that a friend and business partner of Trump’s will have sway over US foreign policy toward Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, whose drug war in the country has killed thousands of people.
Scotland, United Kingdom: In a meeting with Nigel Farage, the British politician who backed his candidacy, Trump urged Farage to oppose wind farms — which he dislikes because he believes they spoil the view from his golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland. Scotland is also considering a second referendum on independence in the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, which Trump supported. It’s unclear how his business interests in the country might interact with his foreign policy in that situation.
Turkey: The Trump Towers in Istanbul have become a tool that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used in his relationship with the president-elect. After Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, Erdoğan said he wanted Trump’s name off the buildings. After Trump defended Erdoğan in the wake of a coup in Turkey, Erdoğan backed down — suggesting that foreign leaders could try to tie Trump’s business fortunes to their approval of him and his policies. Ivanka Trump also participated in a post-election phone call between the president-elect and Erdoğan.
Trump’s Washington hotel: Trump’s new hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, DC, worth $212 million, could be the biggest symbol of the conflict of interests he’ll face. As president, Trump will also appoint the head of the General Services Administration, which manages the hotel. The same desire to curry favor that foreign diplomats expressed when discussing booking rooms there could also apply to domestic groups, although so far, it’s mostly been the venue of choice for conservative organizations. Meanwhile, a controversy has arisen about whether he’s even allowed to hold the lease in the first place — a clause forbids any elected or government official from doing so.
Labor disputes: Days before the election, the National Labor Relations Board ruled thata Trump hotel in Las Vegas had violated labor law by refusing to recognize and negotiate with a newly formed union. As president, Trump will appoint members to the board, and while it’s common for Republicans to pick less union-friendly members than Democrats, Trump is unusual because the board’s decisions could directly affect his business interests in the future.
Deutsche Bank: Deutsche Bank, one of Trump’s biggest lenders — his most recent financial disclosures say he owes the bank at least $364 million — is negotiating a $4 billion to $5 billion settlement with the Department of Justice over its packaging and sale of mortgage-backed securities. Talks were suspended after the November election, and the concern is that Trump’s administration might be more lenient on a Trump Organization creditor.
The stock portfolio: Trump says he sold his stock portfolio, including stocks worth as much as $40 million, back in June. But so far, he hasn’t provided proof. It’s standard for presidents to sell their stock and put it in a blind trust, so they’re no longer aware what companies they own — and Trump owns small slices of big players in industries his policies will affect, from pharmaceuticals to technology companies.
The trademarks: Before Trump secured the Republican nomination, he tried to trademark the phrase “American Idea.” Melania Trump has tried to trademark her name for use in a jewelry line. And after Ivanka Trump appeared in a 60 Minutes interview, reporters were notified that she was wearing a $10,800 bracelet from her own line of jewelry.
Celebrity Apprentice: Trump will remain an executive producer on the reality television show, according to Variety, meaning that he’ll continue to receive income while in the White House. While presidents, including President Obama, have made money from royalties on books during their time in office, the TV show is just one small part of Trump’s ongoing business empire.
Another reason faithless electors are refusing to vote for Trump is due to speculations of Russia hacking the 2016 election. Many are now demanding an investigation of Trump’s campaign and possible interference from Russia to get Trump elected.
Ten different electors from both the Democratic and Republican parties have released an open letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, requesting more information. A bipartisan group in the Senate is also calling for an investigation, while Hillary Clinton’s campaign wants this intelligence information declassified and released to the public.
Trump has denied Russia’s involvement in the election. “I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it,” Trump told Fox News.
SHARE this story!