I understand that US president Donald Trump has not provided evidence that he has relinquished his direct and indirect holdings in Energy Transfer Partners, which has been constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Ignoring the question of whether there's still a conflict of interests even shortly after dumping stock, is it legal for a president to issue executive orders directly benefiting a business enterprise which the official record still shows he has stock in?

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    This sounds like a pure legal question without any political parts. You might be better served on the law site. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 20:46
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    I think the broad question of whether or not Trump's conflicts of interest are against the law is yet to be decided.
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 20:53
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    I concur with @blip here. Neither this issue, nor other issues of Presidential conflicts of interest, have ever been ruled on. For now at least, this question is primarily a matter of opinion.
    – Publius
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:37
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    Actually I disagree. While the issues are not decided by court yet, the specific Emoluments rules are pretty clear cut, so a good answer can be made (and, ironically, out of all the prior baseless accusations on the topic against Trump from Frum and his other media buddies, THIS particular one has the most technical merits, as it involves decisions he makes as POTUS that affect his potential income).
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 1:56
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    Whether this is a legal question or not, it has a distinctly political component that I think makes it a reasonable fit for this stack. It is also about the outcomes of policy (conflict of interest policies), which makes it on-topic. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


During the campaign Trump voiced support for allowing pipelines like the DAPL and KeystoneXL to be constructed. Trump keeping is promise and working to expedite the construction of these pipelines shouldn't really come as a surprise. AS far as the DAPL is concerned, it was granted approval and construction was started under Obama. It was halted for political reasons by ordering another environmental impact study, what Trump has done is remove the order for another study since one has already been completed.

With a pedantic view than Trump could be considered violating ethics rules by using his executive authority in a way that could potentially benefit him since he had investments in the company building the pipeline. Trump's actions are defensible since his actions were only to continue an existing project that was halted for political reasons and he didn't choose who builds the pipeline or exempt them from having to follow existing regulation.

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    How is a clear ethics violation "A pedantic view"?
    – Magisch
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 13:31
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    Actually, his campaign rhetoric only makes it worse, since that means he decided to promote his own project when he's president; and he sold those holdings with the hanging promise that he will soon ram it through, so it's more likely to succeed. Still, can you link to information about the pre-existing environmental impact study? Also "halted by a political figure for political reasons" = "halted by a political figure"
    – einpoklum
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 13:42
  • @einpoklum added link
    – Ryathal
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 13:56
  • Re "...keeping [h]is promise...": the general Q is exclusively about post-campaign activity, it's not clear why the fulfillment of campaign promises would be relevant.
    – agc
    Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 5:26
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    @agc Presumably the voters were voting for whatever he promised during his campaign, thus any fulfillment of his campaign promises can be presumed to have voter support (not just a unilateral use of presidential power).
    – Brilliand
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 18:34

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