Trump Tracker: Pioneer updates on America’s president
April 5, 2017
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On Feb. 10, an amendment was made to the financial trust of President Donald Trump to allow him to take money from any of his more than 400 businesses he owns without approval.
On Jan. 11 Trump signed over all operations of his businesses to his two oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, who currently run the day-to-day operations along with Trump’s CFO Allen Weisselberg. The trio would act as trustees of the companies until the end of Trump’s presidency, according to multiple statements from Trump.
At a press conference on Jan. 11 Trump told reporters, “I hope at the end of eight years I’ll come back and say ‘oh you did a good job.’” However, since Trump is allowed to access the finances, he will also be able to see information about the status of the companies.
According to documents released by Trump’s administration in January before he took office, Trump tried to distance himself from his business ventures in order to eliminate a conflict of interest. The new amendment, according to the documents signed and released by his lawyers on Feb 10, “shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request” or whenever his sons and attorney “deem appropriate.”
According to Forbes Magazine, Trump is the richest president in U.S. history and it creates some unique challenges when it comes to disassociating from his businesses and eliminating conflict of interest. According to the White House, most presidents use a blind trust to eliminate conflict of interest, which is defined as when a person in public office gives up their interests in their businesses for their elected duration. In a blind trust, the party is not allowed information as to how the business is performing. The White House said George Bush, his son George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton all used blind trusts with the exception of personal real estate, cash accounts, life insurance, bonds and mutual funds.
However, according to Forbes Magazine, Barack Obama decided against a blind trust and instead used bank accounts, treasury notes, index funds and college savings, which were all deemed not a conflict of interest and satisfied all of the pertaining laws.
Before he became president, Trump was one of the best-known people in the real estate industry, amassing a net worth of $3.9 billion, according to Forbes.
His businesses range from hotels and casinos to real estate property, golf courses and even bottled water, Trump Ice. According to the Trump organization, he is listed as a chairman, trustee, president or member of more than 530 businesses or organizations and has at least partial ownership of more than 400 of those.
Many critics, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, bashed the plan saying it allowed him access to financial information about the businesses, which creates a conflict of interest.
Trump and his representatives still have not addressed the issue but did release a statement through Trump Spokeswoman Amanda Miller, who in late March said, “President Trump believed it was important to create multiple layers of approval for major actions and key business decision.”