[Kip Currier: Even if the U.S. President is exempt from conflict of interest laws, as Rep. Jason Chaffetz asserts below, he ignores a fundamental underpinning of democracy, the rule of law, and good governance: the need for the public's belief in the integrity of such systems.
To avoid an "air of impropriety" (i.e. perception that a particular action doesn't look "right" or fair)--to promote the U.S. electorate's faith in the integrity of elected officials to not unduly profit from public service--a U.S. President should voluntarily abide by conflict of interest laws and strive for the highest level of ethical conduct.
A related aside about the Judicial Branch, on the "air of impropriety" rationale for voluntary ethical compliance, transparency, and accountability: conflict of interest arguments have been made about the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, who have continually avoided being bound by a formal ethics code and the Code of Conduct for federal judges that applies to every other federal judge. As Lincoln Caplan's 2015 New Yorker article "DOES THE SUPREME COURT NEED A CODE OF CONDUCT?" persuasively posits:
"“Where do you draw a line in the sand?” asked one woman in the audience regarding Trump’s potential conflicts of interest.
“Everyone has to comply with the law,” Chaffetz responded. “You’re really not going to like this part,” again to boos. “The president, under the law, is exempt from the conflict-of-interest laws.”"