US President-elect Donald Trump says he'll step aside from his business interests to focus on his White House role. Over the past 24 hours, he has nominated nine key members of his upcoming administration.
Trump wrote on Twitter that he plans to leave his businesses "in total" to focus on running the country. The billionaire property magnate said he was stepping down even though he is not required to do so under the law.
He added that it was "visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses."
Trump, who will take office on January 20, said legal documents were being prepared to remove him completely from his various business operations.
He also told his Twitter followers that he would hold a "major" press conference on the matter on December 15 to reveal more details about his plans. He said that his children would also attend the event, leading to immediate speculation that they may take over the day-to-day running of his companies.
US presidents typically put their assets in blind trusts managed without their input.
Business could distract from presidency
The announcement amounts to a speedy about-face for Trump, who last week told the New York Times (NYT) he may maintain his business ties, denying that it risked a conflict of interest.
"The law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest," he told the newspaper.
Trump's varied business interests were brought to the fore during his presidential campaign. As well as real estate development, his Trump Organization has subsidiaries in several sectors, including hospitality, entertainment, publishing, business education and beauty pageants. His business interests span more than 20 countries, according to the NYT.
Breaking with decades of tradition, he refused to release his tax returns, raising questions about the net worth of his companies and himself.
The NYT recently reported that Trump had used a massive business loss to avoid paying taxes for years. He has also declared bankruptcy multiple times.
Following his election, Trump settled two lawsuits to the tune of $25 million (23.5 million euros) following allegations that Trump University, which was licensed to use his name, defrauded its students through the use of aggressive sales tactics and misleading marketing.
Senior cabinet posts nominated
Since Tuesday, he has nominated nine people for top roles in his administration.
Among them was a little known private equity investor, Steven Mnuchin, who Trump nominated for Treasury secretary, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross who was proposed to head the Commerce Department.
A statement from the Trump transition office confirmed their nominations on Wednesday following reports in US media.
Trump also named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his choice for the role of US Ambassador to the United Nations, close ally Jeff Sessions was nominated US Attorney General, retired Lt. Gn. Michael Flynn was proposed as National Security Adviser, while the role of CIA Director goes to Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo.
mm/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)