10 Steps to Avoid Becoming a Tin Pot Kleptocracy (and safeguard our national security in the process)

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  1. The President-elect must make his tax returns public.  The public at large will then know precisely the nature and form of his extensive business interests.
  2. The President-elect must place his conflict generating assets in a true blind trust run by an independent trustee.  
  3. The President-elect’s transitional website should not promote the business properties of the incoming president or his family members.
  4. The President-elect’s family must not hold parties at his Washington hotel to curry business favour with foreign diplomats in potential violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution.
  5. The President-elect should scrupulously follow the federal anti-nepotism statute which states: “A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.”  Placing one’s children in charge of one’s business and then putting them on your transition team, while seeking top secret security clearances for them invites comparison with a banana republic, not a constitutional democracy with a commitment to the rule of law.  
  6. The President-elect should not take his daughter to work, specifically when the meetings involve formal state introductions with foreign heads of states.  
  7. The President-elect should use security vetted, competent and well-briefed translators for meetings with foreign government officials.  These employees of the United States government have professional and ethical obligations to represent the best interests of the United States.  We can also assume they know how to do their jobs.
  8. The President-elect should seek briefs from state department officials who are vetted, competent and institutionally organized to provide such information on an impartial basis to the incoming president.  That is their job.  Their advice can be ignored but, not to seek it out in advance of numerous bi-lateral meetings constitutes negligence by any common understanding.
  9. The President-elect should refrain from using his twitter account to further incite division in our body politic.  He is not legally required to do so, but the highest ethical expectations of his office demand restraint on his personal opinion to preserve the dignity and neutrality of the President’s Office.  
  10. The President-elect should refrain from meeting with business partners, illustrated by a meeting with his Indian business partners last week, who are involved in a branded real estate project near Mumbai.  The potential for conflicts of interests are too high as are the costs to the integrity and impartiality of the Presidential Office.
Image: Cabinet Public Relations Office handout

 

About the Author(s)

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School, Professor of Law at the University of Ulster’s Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland Follow her on Twitter (@NiAolainF).