In the weeks since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential elections, it’s been a whirlwind for the American press and people alike.
From First Lady Melania not moving into the White House to Trump meeting with the press in order to yell at them like they were bad children, nothing feels normal about the upcoming administration. Though every day will probably bring something new to confound and confuse, here are the most glaringly different things that are happening with the president-elect.
The White House Will Not Have a Live-in First Lady
This weekend, we learned that Melania Trump is going to stay in New York with her 10-year-old son, Barron Trump, during her husband’s time in office. The reason is so that Barron will not have to transfer school mid-term (though the last three administrations all had school-age children who did just that). This has happened only twice before—under very different circumstances. Martha Washington did not live in the White House because it had not been built yet. And William Henry Harrison’s wife, Anna, did not live there because her husband died before his term began.
Trump will have a unique relationship with the press
For a moment, try to forget that Steve Bannon, a man who led white supremacist “news” site Breitbart.com is now chief strategist for Trump. And also try to forget that on Monday, the president-elect met with key members of television media in a meeting which included him repeatedly telling that they had gotten it “all wrong” and that he hated CNN. It was a meeting that Breitbart.com described as “Trump Eats Press.”
Forgetting both of those things, Trump is rewriting the rules on how the president-elect normally deals with the press in many other ways. According to NBC News, he has “not held a formal press conference in the 12 days since winning the election, and he has so far declined to allow journalists to participate in a formal “protective pool,” which allows a small group of reporters to broadcast information about the movements of the president or president-elect.” He has also refused to allow them in to take photographs of him meeting with foreign leaders. Instead, when the meetings are over, his transition team releases images. And as for that videotape he released yesterday about what he would do on his first day in office? Recorded, edited and released by his internal team.
For a politician who ran on a platform promising so many things that could trample on so many people’s civil rights, the absence of a press oversight adds new possibilities that are perhaps too terrifying to put into words. Without the press, who will hold this man accountable?
We still haven’t seen his tax returns
This makes Trump the only person who will enter the White House in 40 years without having released his tax returns. Though it is not a law, it could be soon. On Monday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) announced he will reintroduce a tax return disclosure bill, which would require presidents to release returns. Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, also tweeted: “This is imperative because [Donald] Trump is the first president-elect since Watergate to refuse to release tax returns” and “Because of this the public knows next to nothing about Trump’s investments & potential conflicts of interest.”
Is Trump a politician a businessman or both?
As the New Yorker reported, “former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all placed their assets in blind trusts while serving as President. (Obama has all of his money in Treasury bills and index funds, investments that aren’t seen as a conflict.)”
Trump said he would also looking into a blind trust for his multi-billion dollar corporation, but then said he would have it headed by his three children from his first marriage. Since he has potentially daily contact with his children—meaning they could discuss business or anything else—this is not blind.
Astonishingly, Trump is not legally required to do anything. As the New Yorker also reported, “It turns out that there is no legal requirement that a President divest himself or herself of private business interests or investments while in office. Nor is there a requirement that he place investments or companies he controls in a blind trust…” So while the 45th President of the US meets with leaders, works on trade agreements and passes laws that could benefit his business, it is definitely not standard practice—but it is also not against the law.
However, if Trump keeps running his businesses (which, again, is legal), an article by the New York Times found that he could potentially break the law under a constitutional provision called the Emolument Clause. It says that “no person holding any office of profit or trust” shall “accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state” unless Congress consents.
The Times also states that, “Mr. Trump’s companies do business with entities controlled by foreign governments and people with ties to them.”
For a concrete example of what kinds of business/political entanglements there could be, German-run Deutsche Bank, which Trump’s businesses owe hundreds of millions of dollars to in loans, is currently under investigation by the US Justice Department—which Trump will be in charge of post-inauguration. And when Argentina’s president called Trump to congratulate him on his win, Trump reportedly tried to get him to push through a stalled Trump office building project.
The First Kids
His kids—and son-in-law—have access that no other First Child ever has.
Yes, that was Ivanka sitting in a meeting with her father and the prime minister of Japan (in photos released by Japan since US press had been kept out). Her husband, Jared Kushner, is reportedly one of the most powerful people in Trump’s circle, with a lot of influence over the president-elect. Trump’s children have prominent positions within his company, positions he intends to keep them in regardless of his new job and their soon-to-be unlimited access to world leaders who could muddy the waters of keeping politics out of business.
Trump and Twitter
Obama was the first US President on Twitter, so there is not a lot of historical precedent for what is and is not standard presidential behavior on the social media platform. But telling a Broadway cast to “apologize!” and berating Saturday Night Live for being one-sided is likely no one’s idea of normal. On January 20th, Trump takes over control of the official Presidential account—chances are we will not have to even wait until January 21st to see what he decides to do with it.