Democrats are exploring a new strategy to pressure Donald Trump over his business conflicts of interest, arguing that an insider trading law would make it a crime for him to profit on information he learns as president, reports Politico. The 2012 STOCK Act was designed to restrict insider trading by members of Congress and their staff. Ethics lawyers say it also applies to the president and might extend to private holdings like Trump’s real estate ventures. Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, who co-sponsored the law, is having her staff meet with outside experts and Democrats on the House oversight committee to study how the law could apply to Trump’s White House.
Of particular interest is how Trump might violate the law if he told his children information that they acted on, or invited them to participate in a government meeting where they learned something and used the information to make money. “Donald Trump is not above the law, and I will be working with my colleagues in Congress over the coming weeks and months to ensure this law is enforced as strongly as possible,” Slaughter said, “so we can hold him accountable for any ethical or legal transgressions.” Trump’s announcement Monday that he would wait until January to reveal how he will separate himself from his business operations heightened concerns that even as his inauguration nears, there is no plan in place to avoid the ethical hazards that his business ties pose. When Trump told the New York Times “the president can’t have a conflict of interest,” he was probably referring to the Ethics in Government Act, which exempts the president, vice president, members of Congress, and judges, said Brett Kappel, an attorney who specializes in politics and ethics. The text of the STOCK Act explicitly includes the president.