conflicts of interest

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president in November, questions have been raised about the lease he signed to operate a luxury hotel in the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The lease specifically says the lease holder cannot be a federal elected official. So critics repeatedly have called upon the federal General Services Administration to enforce its agreement, and make President Trump walk away from his deal to run the Trump International Hotel.

President Trump's approval rating with voters may be the lowest on record for an incoming chief executive. But in one way at least, his popularity is improving a bit.

The value of Trump as a commercial brand, although still very low, has ticked up since August, according to the Reputation Institute, which measures the worth of various business brands.

Since taking office, President Trump has stepped away from running his business empire. But in Florida, a federal judge has handed a legal defeat to the organization that bears his name. He ruled that Trump National Jupiter Golf Club must refund members nearly $6 million.

It's a case that began in 2012 when Trump bought the struggling golf club from Marriott Vacations Worldwide. He paid just $5 million, a bargain price. But as part of the deal, he had to assume some $50 million in debt, money owed to members who put down refundable deposits and now wanted out of the club.

President Trump isn't the first wealthy New York businessman to hold a high public office.

Nelson Rockefeller, an heir to one of America's greatest fortunes, served as the state's governor in the 1960s, and then vice president in the mid-1970s in the Ford administration.

More recently, billionaire Michael Bloomberg served as mayor of New York City, where he held office for 12 years. To avoid conflicts of interest, Bloomberg cobbled together a plan for disentangling his private interests from his public office — but without surrendering ownership of his business empire.

President Trump's continued business dealings have generated plenty of teeth-gnashing about whether the occupant of the White House will be profiting off his new role.

The question is who has the "standing" to do anything about it?

Nobody in Washington ever went wrong by hiring more lawyers, and now President Trump and the Trump Organization are beefing up their legal teams against an expected surge of conflict-of-interest allegations.

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

A team of ethics experts and legal scholars filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday morning that says President Trump's overseas businesses violate the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which bars presidents from taking money from foreign governments.

No evidence exists so far that President Trump or his elder daughter has taken steps to sever ties with their businesses, despite promises to do so by Inauguration Day, ProPublica has reported.

President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Friday having largely failed to address concerns about the many conflicts of interest posed by his business interests.

Although Trump has settled a few of the outstanding legal and regulatory disputes hanging over him, he remains in the unusual position of presiding over countless policy decisions that will affect his own businesses.

On Friday, when Donald Trump puts his hand on a Bible and takes the oath of office, ethics experts say he may very well be in violation of a lease on one of his premier hotels.

The Trump International Hotel is a grand dame of a building on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a stone's throw from the White House. It has become something of a tourist destination in Washington — and a rallying point for protesters — since Trump won the election. This week, they snarled traffic in front of the hotel, and one demonstrator suffered serious burns after trying to set a fire outside the building.

The long arm of the pharmaceutical industry continues to pervade practically every area of medicine, reaching those who write guidelines that shape doctors' practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and even oncologists on Twitter, according to a series of papers on money and influence published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In late October, just weeks ahead of the election, President-elect Donald Trump made a quick detour to Washington for the official opening of his new five-star hotel, just a few blocks from the White House.

Donald Trump hasn't held a wide-ranging press conference in 167 days. That streak is expected to be broken Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET, when Trump holds his first news conference since being elected president.

He'd tweeted 1,601 times in that time, as of midnight Wednesday.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

The Office of Government Ethics is raising alarm over the pace of confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's nominees, saying Saturday that they have yet to receive required financial disclosures for some picks set to come before Congress next week.

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