Trump’s Plan to Turn Over Business to Sons is not Enough to Avoid Conflicts of Interest


President-elect’s Plans Leave Nation in Unprecedented Territory

WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump made clear today he will retain retain full ownership of Trump Organization while turning over management of the business to his sons, a choice that will create the appearance, and perhaps be the case in reality, that his decisions as president are motivated by self-interest rather than what’s best for the country. It will also provide an opportunity for those seeking access, influence and favors, including from foreign countries, to personally enrich the president’s family without the public’s knowledge.

“Having Trump’s adult children lead the operational control of his business, while he still retains full ownership, is not an acceptable solution,” said Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center. “It does not limit the potential for conflicts. There is no reason why Trump would not be fully invested in a business he founded and that is run by his adult children. His decision has created a direct path by which U.S. and foreign interests, including foreign governments, can exert influence over him through his companies or holdings.

Giving management control to his children will not solve the problem, as evidenced by other countries where family members are used as proxies to enable political figures to amass wealth from domestic and foreign interests seeking to buy influence with the nation’s leader by enriching their family. The United States should not follow this path.”

“President-elect Trump has put himself, his administration, and the nation on the wrong path today – one that was completely avoidable,” said Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. “Every modern president before him protected the integrity of the office by converting all personal investments to government bonds or broad investment funds. This is the only way to assure the public that presidential decisions made on behalf of the American people are not clouded by self-interest. Now we are in uncharted and dangerous territory. It is not clear if foreign governments will try to exert influence over Trump through his family’s companies or holdings, or how potential violations of the Emoluments Clauses will be dealt with, or how many times the president will be caught up in legal entanglements involving his interests.  But it is clear that neither President-elect Trump nor the American people need these distractions.”

Potter added: "It is not unique for a president-elect with private business interests to need to take steps to avoid conflicts of interest, such as selling those interests and creating blind trusts. This situation is unique because the president-elect thinks he is above the laws and traditions his predecessors followed out of an abundance of caution – to avoid even the appearance of a potential conflict.”

CLC joined a bipartisan coalition of organizations and individuals in signing a letter that urged President-elect Trump to protect the integrity of his presidency by divesting his assets into a qualified blind trust managed by an independent trustee.