An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) confirmed that President Donald Trump never separated himself from his multiple business enterprises.
In documents published by muckraking site ProPublica, President Trump is listed as the sole beneficiary of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which is tied to his own Social Security number and his personal tax ID number. In the January 27 letter to the Washington liquor board, the trustees are Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
“Trump himself still financially benefits from [the arrangement],” wrote the Associated Press’ Julie Bykowicz and Chad Day. “Past precedent has been for presidents to sell off their holdings and place the cash into a truly blind trust — not one overseen by a family member — before taking office, even though there’s no legal requirement to do so.”
Ethics advisors for both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush both said that Trump’s plans to separate himself from his businesses to avoid any potential conflicts of interest are “nakedly unconstitutional.” Even though the documents are in line with what Trump Organization lawyer Sheri Dillon said the president would do in a press conference prior to his inauguration, his stated plan to be in compliance with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution still fail to satisfy concerns that Trump will act in the interests of the American people, rather than for the financial gain of his family or business empire.
The AP pointed to Trump’s own top cabinet appointee as how public officials normally adhere to longstanding conflict of interest policies. Prior to his confirmation, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson completely separated himself from ExxonMobil, the oil conglomerate he headed prior to becoming the nation’s top diplomat. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to send Tillerson’s confirmation to the full senate, the former Exxon CEO sold off roughly $180 million worth of company stock he held. Tillerson then put the cash in a blind trust to be overseen by an independent third party.
As of this writing, President Trump has not responded to the allegations of unethical behavior. Sheri Dillon argued at Trump’s first and only press conference as President-Elect that because he is President of the United States, it’s impossible for him to have any conflicts of interest.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.