Donald Trump will cede control of his business empire to offspring

Pledging to avoid potential conflict of interest prior to entering office, President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning his intent to surrender control over his real estate holdings from the Trump Organization.

Although Mr. Trump did not reveal specifics of his decision, he announced a Dec. 15 press conference with his children to lay out specifics of the plan to sever ties to his land assets and disclosed legal documents were being drawn to distance himself from control of his vast business operation.

Prior to the election, Trump offered assurances he would place his assets in a blind trust under control of his offspring, but legal analysts remain skeptical an arrangement such as this would entirely prevent Trump from exercising influence over the operation which bears his name.

Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr., all play key roles in the Trump organization.

A legal device to avoid conflict of interest, a blind trust most often works for politicians with liquid assets: stocks, bonds and other financial assets.  Mr. Trump’s empire is comprised mostly of hotels, resorts and casinos.

Most of Trump’s predecessors have opted for a blind trust, an arrangement in which federal officials, and their dependents, hand over control of private financial assets to an independent trustee who takes over the official’s investment portfolio.  Under this disposition, the official exercises no control on investment decisions.

Beginning with Lyndon Johnson through President George W. Bush, most presidents have elected to place their assets in a blind trust.  Mr. Obama is an exception:  A former community organizer with a smaller net worth than his forerunners, Obama selected what is referred to as a “plain-vanilla index” funds comprised of Treasury bills and notes.

Last week, Trump told the New York Times that presidents “can’t have a conflict of interest” and that it will be nearly impossible to sell all his real estate holdings. Under federal law, the president of the United States is exempt from most rules governing conflict of interest.

 

[Reuters] [New York Times]