By Jon Banister
President-elect Donald Trump will not divest from his business or put his assets in a blind trust, but he plans to resign from the Trump Organization, handing it over to his sons, and put his ownership stake in a trust.
After months of uncertainty surrounding Trump's relationship with his business while in the Oval Office, he and his attorney provided details at a press conference Wednesday. It was Trump's first press conference since being elected.
Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, will manage the business while Trump and his daughter Ivanka will resign from their leadership roles within the company, his attorney said from the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan.
"I could actually run my business and run government at the same time," Trump said. "I don’t like the way that looks but I’d be able to do that."
Trump's liquid assets and investments will be placed in a diversified portfolio, Morgan Lewis tax attorney Sheri Dillon said, while his illiquid business assets — including the properties he owns and royalties he receives — will be put in a trust.
The trust would not be a blind trust — which is how previous presidents have handled their investments — and Dillon said Trump would still receive information about his company's overall performance, but not about specific assets. Trump said he would not speak to his sons about the business.
The company has pledged not to make any new foreign deals while Trump is in office, Dillon said. It also terminated as many as 30 pending deals, many of which were set to close, she said, costing the company millions of dollars. Dillon declined to name any specifics about deals that were canceled or their locations.
New domestic deals will be allowed under the agreement, but Dillon said they will go through a vetting process, including required approval from an ethics adviser. Dillon did not specify if the ethics adviser would be paid by the Trump Organization. Trump also plans to create a position of chief compliance counsel to focus on potential conflicts of interest.
Trump will not fully divest from the company, as the Office of Government Ethics has called on him to do. Dillon said selling all of his assets would greatly diminish their value, and she argued it would create more potential conflicts of interest regarding the buyers and financiers of those deals.
"He should not be expected to destroy the company he built," Dillon said. "This is a suitable alternative."
As for the constitution's emoluments clause, which prohibits gifts from foreign governments and many have speculated he would violate unless he divests, Dillon argued that paying a hotel bill is not considered a gift.
Trump pledged to donate all profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury, Dillon said. There was no mention of the Old Post Office hotel in Washington, DC, which experts believe will be in violation of its lease with the federal government when Trump takes office unless he sells his stake.
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