"The seven nations targeted for new visitation restrictions by President Trump on Friday all have something in common: They are places he does not appear to have any business interests.
The executive order he signed Friday bars all entry for the next 90 days by travelers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. Excluded from the lists are several majority-Muslim nations where the Trump Organization is active and which in some cases have also faced troublesome issues with terrorism.
According to the text of the order, the restriction applies to countries that have already been excluded from programs allowing people to travel to the United States without a visa because of concerns over terrorism. Hewing closely to nations already named as terrorism concerns elsewhere in law might have allowed the White House to avoid angering some more powerful and wealthy majority Muslim allies, such as Egypt.
But without divesting from his company, as bipartisan ethics experts had advised, Trump is now facing questions about whether he designed the new rules with his own business at least partly in mind.
“He needs to sell his businesses outside his family and place the assets in a blind trust, otherwise every decision he makes people are going to question if he’s making the decision in the interests of the American people or his own bottom line,” said Jordan Libowitz, the spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group. The group has filed a lawsuit arguing that Trump is already in violation of a constitutional provision barring federal officials from accepting payments from foreign officials.
Earlier in the week, Norm Eisen, the group’s chairman and a former ethics adviser to Barack Obama, tweeted: “WARNING: Mr. Pres. your Muslim ban excludes countries where you have business interests. That is a CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION. See u in court.”
Stephanie Grisham, a White House spokeswoman, said, “The high-risk territories are based on Congressional statute and nothing else.”
Trump has said he has handed management of his real estate, licensing and merchandising business over to his adult sons to avoid the perception that he is making presidential decisions to boost his own business. But he has retained ownership of the company, meaning that if it thrives during his presidency, he will personally profit.
The new executive order points to the complications that are likely to arise from the arrangement."
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