WASHINGTON - US law does not forbid Donald Trump from managing his corporate empire from the White House, according to one of his top advisors, who counseled nevertheless that the billionaire's businesses be run by his adult children.
Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York and one of the leaders of Trump's presidential transition team, told CNN that American presidents are not covered under laws preventing high government officials from having private industry ventures while in office.
"You realize that those laws don't apply to the president, right? The president doesn't have to have a blind trust," Giuliani told CNN.
"For some reason, when the law was written, the president was exempt," said Giuliani, an attorney who also served years ago with the US Justice Department.
"I think he's in a very unusual situation," Giuliani said of Trump.
In a separate interview on ABC's "This Week," Giuliani counseled that Trump should nevertheless remove himself from the running of his business empire.
"For the good of the country, and the fact you don't want a question coming up every time there's a decision made, he should basically take himself out of it, and just be a passive participant in the sense that he has no decision-making, no involvement," he said.
But Giuliani told CNN Trump's grown children should continue to actively manage the incoming president's businesses.
Some have argued that Trump's three oldest children -- Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric -- should have no dealings with his business while their father is in office, citing potential conflicts of interest.
Giuliani said such a restriction would be unreasonable.
"He would basically put his children out of work if -- and they'd have to start a whole new business, and that would set up the whole, set up new problems," the former mayor said.
"It's kind of unrealistic to say you're going to take the business away from the three people who are running it and give it to some independent person," Giuliani said.
"Remember, they can't work in the government because of the government rule against nepotism, so you'd be putting them out of work."
Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr are already executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization.
All three, along with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, are also members of the president-elect's transition team.
Trump has said little about his potentially unprecedented conflicts of interest as president.
Accusations of mixing business with politics are not new, but the problem takes on new dimensions with Trump, whose name is inextricably linked to his real estate empire that extends beyond US borders.
Under current law, while non-elected members of the US administration face stringent constraints on their business activities, those rules do not apply to the president or vice president.
Managing political relations with US allies while president risks creating a curious mix of competing goals.
"The man is an enormously wealthy man," Giuliani said, but said he does not see "real fear of suspicion that he's seeking to enrich himself by being rich. He wouldn't have run for president."
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