WASHINGTON – New documents confirm that President Donald Trump retains a direct tie to his business interests through a revocable trust now being overseen by one of his adult sons and a longtime executive of the Trump Organization.
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Trump is the sole beneficiary of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which is tied to his Social Security number as the taxpayer identification number, according to documents published online by the investigative nonprofit ProPublica. And Trump can revoke the trust, which was amended three days before his inauguration, at any time.
The details about the trust were included in a Jan. 27 letter to the Washington liquor board that notes Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg are its new trustees. The Trump trust holds a liquor license for the hotel that opened last fall in the federally owned Old Post Office building. The trust contains a mix of cash from Trump's sales of stock investments over the summer and his physical and intellectual properties, such as Trump Tower in New York, Mar-a-Lago in Florida and branding rights.
The details align with what Trump and attorney Sheri Dillon outlined at a Jan. 11 news conference about Trump's plan for what would become of his global business empire while he's president. The previous ethics advisers to President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush and the leader of the Office of Government Ethics have said Trump has not gone nearly far enough to absolve himself of potential conflicts of interest.
Trump's two adult sons and Weisselberg are running the company while Trump is president, but Trump himself still financially benefits from it. Past precedent has been for presidents to sell off their holdings and place the cash into a truly blind trust — not one overseen by a family member — before taking office, even though there's no legal requirement to do so.
There are far stricter ethics rules governing top administration officials and Cabinet members than the president himself. For example, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the longtime chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, left the energy company, sold off his millions of shares in stock and put the cash into a trust to be overseen by a third party.
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On Friday, Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader and President Trump's nominee for Army secretary, withdrew his name from consideration. He said that distancing himself from his business would be too difficult.