Can a U.S. president continue to run his businesses while in office? Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the basic restrictions, and lack thereof, on the President of the United States to stay away from business of making money.
Judge Andrew Napolitano is a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, an author and the senior judicial analyst at Fox News. He lectures internationally on topics relating to the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, civil liberties in wartime, and human freedom.
Andrew Napolitano: Can the president of the United States of America control directly or indirectly private, profit-making businesses while he or she is still in the White House? The short answer is yes! While there are many many laws in the land, federal and state, that would prevent members of Congress from doing this, members of the federal judiciary from doing in, state governors from doing it, there is no such law for the president or the vice president. So the president of the United States could construct an office building, or an apartment building, or invest in a complex in Dubai if he wanted to and still manage those investments through his children or directly, because there is no federal law regulating or prohibiting it. Potential conflicts of interests with respect to the president are a political problem, not a legal problem. Since there are no statutes or legal opinions governing the private, personal behavior of the president with respect to profit-making ventures, the president’s exposure would be political. Stated differently, if the president of the United States of America used his official power as president to make a decision in order to enhance his own wealth, he would expose himself to severe political criticisms and perhaps even impeachment, if one could argue that it rose to the level of bribery. But there is no statute prohibiting it. Now, if he could tolerate the political firestorm, no legal action would ensue.
Judge Andrew Napolitano, here. Thank you for watching TalksOnLaw.