A primary concern facing the Trump transition team over the past two months has been the President-elect’s myriad private financial and business interests. With his hands in more than 500 companies and investments across the globe, Trump is faced with criticisms that he will use the power of the U.S. presidency to further buttress his business empire and will be dangerously susceptible to outside influence in this capacity. These concerns prompted Trump to announce that he would remove himself from any business ties, however it remains to be seen how he will do so.
Trump prefers to leave his businesses to his adult children, however ethics experts argue that doing so is not sufficient, as his children have already played, and will continue to play, an integral role within the administration. While the transition team was supposed to hold a press conference to discuss the details for the future of Trump’s businesses, they postponed it and rescheduled for early January. Now, amidst this controversy, Trump is addressing another point of contention for critics: his charitable organization, the Trump Foundation.
The Trump Foundation is the President-elect’s philanthropic entity, using money from Trump himself and outside donors to donate to military veterans, law enforcement groups, and children’s groups across the country. While these contributions might not seem problematic, the access outsiders could gain through the Foundation has raised eyebrows. Political leaders and lobbyists could channel funds into Trump’s organization in an attempt to garner favor with the next leader of the free world, which presents a massive headache for ethics lawyers and officials leading the Trump transition. As such, Trump announced this week that he would be dissolving the Trump Foundation "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with [his] role as President."
In the statement used to announce this move, Trump expressed frustration with the fact that he would have to undue his philanthropic organization but assured his supporters that he and his family would fulfill their "strong interest in philanthropy in other ways.” However, despite Trump’s decision to dissolve the organization and clear another potential conflict of interest, a legal battle involving the Trump Foundation may actually make that impossible.
Along the campaign trail, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that the Trump Foundation would be forced to stop fundraising in New York State as a result of the Foundation’s failure to properly register with the state of New York. Additionally, Schneiderman launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation over claims that Trump had used the organization to settle private legal disputes. This very investigation could prevent Trump from dissolving the organization. "The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," said an official from the office.
Trump’s decision to dissolve the Foundation is also not appeasing Democrats’ concerns over conflicts of interest. "Trump's announcement today is a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving," said the deputy communications director of the DNC. The official expressed concerns that Trump has not taken enough steps to “divest from his business.”
What do you think about Trump’s plan to dissolve the Trump Foundation?