President-Elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he will be leaving his business in order to focus on running the country. So who is going to control the Trump Organization for the next four years?
Throughout his campaign, Trump frequently said that his three adult children would run his business if he became president and that he would be setting up a blind trust. This is an agreement often entered into by elected officials where their private company is given to an independent party in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest and so that they do not know how the business is being run. Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. would therefore be running the company.
“My father already said he would put it into a blind trust and it would be run by us,” Ivanka Trump said in September, according to Slate. “So he’s been very articulate on that fact and outspoken.”
Trump said on Twitter today that he will hold a press conference on December 15th to talk about this arrangement.
Trump did not specify whether ceding the business to his children is still the plan, but the fact that they will be joining him for the announcement suggests that it is. When Reince Priebus, Donald Trump’s nominee for chief of staff, recently appeared on MSNBC, he would not say whether Trump will still hand over his business to his kids.
“I’m not ready to reveal any of that,” Priebus said, according to Politico.
If Trump’s children do take over the organization, this will do little to assuage those who worry about there being conflicts of interest during the administration. After all, Trump’s three children have already been highly involved in the transition process. When Trump recently met with the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, Ivanka Trump sat in on the entire meeting. She also sat in on a phone call between her father and Mauricio Macri, the president of Argentina, according to NY Mag.
The idea of a blind trust is that the business is given to a completely independent party and that the elected official does not know how it is being run. Instead, Trump’s children hardly qualify as an independent party, and this would still give him the opportunity to make decisions as president that enrich his company.
It’s unclear if Trump plans to take any additional steps to keep his presidency and his personal finances separate, as he doesn’t seem to see this as being much of an issue. In an interview with The New York Times last week, Trump said that “the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”
Trump is correct in a sense in that presidents do not legally have to adhere to the same conflict-of-interest laws that other elected officials do, but previous presidents have opted to set up blind trusts even though it is not technically required.
Reince Priebus also suggest during his appearance on MSNBC this morning that the American people don’t care much about these conflict-of-interest concerns since they elected Trump anyway.
“Here’s the thing. He was elected by the American people with all of this knowledge in mind…I mean, people in this country knew and accepted and celebrated this business that Donald Trump has built throughout his entire life,” Priebus said, according to Politico.
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