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Trump says he will formally separate from business interests

Donald Trump and his family at the

Donald Trump and his family at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, on Oct. 26, 2016. On Wednesday, the president-elect tweeted that he would formally separate his business interests from his Oval Office responsibilities. Credit: EPA / Shawn Thew

President-elect Donald Trump affirmed Wednesday that he intends to formally separate his business interests from his Oval Office responsibilities, saying he wished to eliminate any appearances or possibilities of ethical violations.

Trump, in a series of morning tweets, said legal papers were being drawn up to remove him from the real estate empire that has helped make him his billions.

“While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses,” he wrote on Twitter.

Senior Trump adviser Sean Spicer confirmed during a call with reporters that the president-elect’s three oldest children would run his company, but he would not otherwise detail the plans.

Donald Jr., 38, Ivanka, 35, and Eric, 32, have executive positions at their father’s company and also serve on his executive transition committee.

The Trump brand includes skyscrapers, hotels and golf courses in Brazil, India, Scotland and other locations.

Since his election, the developer and Ivanka Trump have discussed business with foreign officials, diplomats and executives. Independent legal experts have said such communications could be misconstrued at some point as requests for favorable treatment.

Spicer would not say whether Trump will relinquish ownership or just operations, adding that more information will be provided at a mid-December news conference in New York City.

The announcement came amid another round of interviews and meetings at Trump Tower with business and political leaders that Trump’s team has said should have a stake in the administration. He met with Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, former World Wrestling Entertainment president Linda McMahon and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, among others.

Transition aides told reporters that Trump has narrowed his field of secretary of state candidates to four people, including 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Transition spokesman Jason Miller cited “good chemistry” between Trump and Romney during a Tuesday night dinner the pair had in Manhattan. Romney’s candidacy has been met with vocal opposition by some in Trump’s inner circle because the former Massachusetts governor was an outspoken Trump critic during the campaign.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence spent Wednesday in Washington, D.C., meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), among others.

Trump and Pence are due Thursday in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a tour and remarks at the Carrier air-conditioning company. Carrier had announced it would keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana, where Pence is governor, under a deal with the incoming administration.

Carrier added in a statement Wednesday that it plans to continue to “manufacture gas furnaces in Indianapolis, in addition to retaining engineering and headquarters staff” in order to preserve the positions. The company said, however, that the agreement “in no way diminishes our belief in the benefits of free trade and that the forces of globalization will continue to require solutions for the long-term competitiveness.”

Trump and Pence are scheduled late Thursday for a Cincinnati rally billed as part of their “Thank You Tour 2016.”

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