U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., gave no hints on a possible role in the upcoming Donald Trump administration in an interview that covered Trump’s potential conflicts of business interests, Iran sanctions, the lame-duck Congress, and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Appearing on Talk Business & Politics, Cotton said it is too early to speculate on whether he would serve in Trump’s administration and he called for patience during the transition period to let the President-elect take his time in naming picks.
“I’m very happy to enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and let Donald Trump take all the time he needs to make these important decisions. In the meantime, I’m happy to be serving the people of Arkansas in the United States Senate,” Cotton said after three questions on the topic of him vacating his Senate post.
In recent days, potential conflicts of interest between Trump’s businesses and his role as leader of the free world have been heightened. Could Trump’s businesses profit from his newly elected role? Will there be an ethically solid wall between business dealings and his policy decisions to avoid self-serving? Cotton said the details will need to be worked out during the transition period.
“On Donald Trump’s business organizations, he has said that he’s going to put those organizations into a blind trust and won’t have any active role in managing them nor will he have knowledge of the ongoing operations of his business. And I think that’s the appropriate and traditional path that most presidents or high-ranking officials in the government take,” said Cotton.
Trump has, in fact alluded to a blind trust, but one that would be managed by three of his children. Critics have argued that this separation is far from similar to previous arrangements.
“I’m sure the details with his children or other senior officers in the Trump organization are waiting to be worked out, but Donald Trump has said all along that he intends to take a step back from the Trump organization,” Cotton said. When asked if he would call for greater separation if conflicts appear, Cotton added, “I take Donald Trump at his word that he’s going to put the people’s business at the forefront. He’s said that throughout the campaign and I believe that’s what he’s going to do in the ordering of the affairs of the Trump organization in this transition period before he takes office on January 20th.”
LAME-DUCK AND BEYOND
Sen. Cotton discussed items that he felt would be included during the lame-duck session of Congress that will conclude before year’s end. He cited the renewal of sanction on Iran, a short-term funding bill, and some smaller bills that deal with veterans’ burials and a veterans’ suicide hotline that he felt would pass.
On Iran, Cotton said in an interview earlier this week that Trump could rip up the current international agreement to curtail Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. In the TB&P interview, Cotton flushed out more details of the restructuring of that deal.
“The President-elect says he wants to dismantle the disastrous Iran deal and I agree with that position. Iran is already not keeping their obligations under the deal,” he said. “In the end, on an existential threat like a nuclear Iran, the United States has a lot of leverage – economic, financial, political, diplomatic, and military – and we have to use that leverage to keep our country safe from the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.”
With control of the Senate, the House and the White House, Republicans are poised to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” a frequent mantra on the campaign trail for several years. While the repeal portion of the promise is apparent, the replace portion is more complicated. Cotton said specifics of what replacement legislation for the Affordable Care Act would likely be developed in the first quarter of 2017.
“That will likely be part of the new budget process next year, in the winter of next year – the January to April time frame – there’s still ongoing debates about exactly what that legislation will look like, but I think a lot of the general contours are known,” Cotton said.
“It will repeal a lot of the mandates of Obamacare, it will grant some sort of tax credit or tax deduction treatment to all Americans so that we can assure that all Americans have access to affordable healthcare, and it will stop some of the most onerous penalties and taxes that Obamacare imposes on individuals and businesses,” he added.
Watch Cotton’s full interview below.