At least once a week for the past 11 months, Donald Trump has offered the public a new, lurid reason why he should never be president. The litany has become (perilously) familiar: He stigmatizes vulnerable minorities, advocates for war crimes, demeans the disabled, displays contempt for women as often as he blinks, encourages political violence, brags about the size of his penis on national television, contemplates nuking Europe, etc., etc.
But all of the rhetorical sewage that’s forever spewing from Trump’s gaffe hole has obscured a more mundane — but no less important — disqualification for the Oval Office: Trump has no intention of divesting himself from his corporate empire upon inauguration, despite the myriad conflicts of interest his businesses will inevitably produce.
On Thursday night, CNN unearthed a ten-year-old Trump quote that highlights the danger of electing a real-estate-mogul-in-chief:
Two years before the housing market collapsed in 2008 and millions of Americans lost their homes, Donald Trump said he was hoping for a crash.
“I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy,” Trump said in a 2006 audiobook from Trump University, answering a question about “gloomy predictions that the real estate market is heading for a spectacular crash.”
“If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money,” Trump went on to explain in an audio textbook from his con of a business school. “If you’re in a good cash position — which I’m in a good cash position today — then people like me would go in and buy like crazy.”
In 2o12, Mitt Romney placed his complex private-equity investments into a blind trust, to assure the public that their president would not be influenced by private financial incentives. Trump, by contrast, plans to cede control of his diverse holdings to his immediate family members, and the Donald has never been one to delegate — this is a billionaire who does his own publicity.
If President Trump decides he can’t trust the kids to watch the shop, there’s little anyone could do to stop him from effectively running his company and country at the same time. American law bars regular Executive-branch employees from participating “personally and substantially” in any government matter that could affect their own financial interests. But, incredibly, the president is exempted from that rule. According to CNBC, Trump would be within his legal rights to remain his company’s chief executive, even while serving as America’s commander-in-chief. At that point, the only thing that could restrain Trump from putting his financial interests ahead of the public good would be his own sense of shame.
In 2006, the Donald “sort of” hoped for a housing-market crash. What will President Trump sort of hope for in 2017?