White House press secretary attempted to contradict a report Monday that a clause had been added to the trust holding President Donald Trump’s assets that would allow the President to withdraw funds from the trust without disclosing it publicly.
ProPublica reported Monday, based on recently released letters between the Trump Organization and the government, that the trust in which Trump had placed his business assets had been amended in February to stipulate that trustees “shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request,” among other things.
Trump’s trustees are his son, Donald Trump Jr., and the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg. Eric Trump is chairman of the trust’s advisory board. Though Spicer made mention of a “blind” trust in his press briefing Monday, the trust is not blind.
“I’m not aware that there was any change,” he said, contradicting ProPublica’s reporting and the Trump Organization’s documents.
“Just because a left-wing blog makes the point of something changing doesn’t mean it actually happened,” he continued. “I’m not aware that there was ever a change in the trust. And the idea that the President is withdrawing money at some point is exactly the purpose of what the trust, why a trust is set up, regardless of an individual.”
Spicer had earlier said that he was “surprised” that “anyone would find it shocking” that Trump could withdraw money from the trust, though he did not confirm whether or not Trump actually had done so.
“The whole entire point of setting it up is that somebody can withdraw money,” he said. “That’s frankly part of the point of setting it up.”
The director of the Office of Government Ethics called Trump’s trust, and his plan to “limit direct communication” related to his businesses, “wholly inadequate” after the then-President-elect held a press conference announcing the trust in mid-January.
Eric Trump told Forbes on March 24 that he would give Trump regular updates on his businesses, despite past pledges otherwise.