On January 11, 2017, then President-Elect Trump stated his intention to turn over management of the Trump Organization to his adult sons in an effort to avoid any conflicts of interest as President.
Under the proposed plan, all of the assets of the Trump Organization would be conveyed to a trust by January 20, 2017, inauguration day. Management of the Trump Organization will be handled by his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Donald Trump will also resign from any positions that he holds. In addition, an ethics advisor will be appointed who will have the authority to approve or disapprove of any future deals.
The idea behind the ethics advisor is to attempt to ensure that the Trump Organization does not benefit from having Donald Trump as the President. Prior Presidents have completely divested themselves of their business interests but endured significant tax consequences of that divestiture, something that Trump will avoid under the above-listed scenario.
The Office of Government Ethics recently reaffirmed that current conflict of interest laws do not apply to the President, a surprising oversight in our view. Because the Trump Organization will now be run by his sons, it would be a stretch to think that Donald Trump will have no knowledge of his businesses or that his sons will have no knowledge of the issues before the President.
In our view, the “solution” presented by Donald Trump to address any conflict of interest issues falls significantly short of that goal. What do you think?
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