At a press conference on Wednesday morning, a lawyer representing President-elect Donald Trump explained just how he would be turning “complete and total control” of his businesses over to his adult sons.
Sheri Dillon of the law firm Morgan Lewis said that all assets in “what is commonly known as the Trump Organization” would be put into a trust, and that Trump would resign from leadership positions in the Trump Organization.
Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., would run the Trump Organization, Dillon said, while Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, would not be involved in the company.
At the end of the news conference, Trump said that he expected his sons to do a “good job” with his business while he governed the country.
“These papers are all just a piece of the many, many companies that are being put into a trust to be run by my two sons,” he said, referencing the stack of manila folders next to the podium. “And I hope at the end of eight years I’ll come back and I’ll say, ‘Oh, you did a good job.’ Otherwise if they do a bad job I’ll say, ‘You’re fired.’”
Dillon told reporters that the President-elect would have no role in deciding whether the Trump Organization engages in a new deal, which she said would be limited to domestic, not foreign, deals. She also there would be an ethics adviser in place to “scrutinize” new deals and approve of them in writing.
Dillon said that Trump’s instruction to terminate more than 30 pending deals had cost the family “millions” of dollars.
“As you can well imagine, that caused an immediate financial loss of millions of dollars, not just for President-elect Trump but also for Don, Ivanka and Eric,” she said.
Addressing ethics experts’ arguments that Trump should sell off his business entirely, Dillon said doing so would result in a “fire sale” and invited scrutiny that the price Trump received for the business had been too high.
She said selling the business to Trumps’ sons would require the acquisition of too much debt, and argued making the Trump Organization a publicly-traded company was out of the question, too.
Dillon also said putting all of the Trump Organization’s assets in a blind trust—as opposed to a trust controlled by Trump’s sons—was impractical.
“President Trump can’t un-know he owns Trump Tower,” she said, noting it would be “impossible” to find a “competent” trustee to control all of the company’s assets.
“In sum,” Dillon argued, “all of these actions, complete relinquishment of management, no foreign deals, ethics adviser approval of deals, sharply limited information rights, will sever President-elect Trump’s presidency from the Trump Organization.”
Dillon also addressed ethics experts’ assessments that Trump may violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting foreign government officials as guests in his hotels.
Though Dillon said “routine business transactions, like paying for hotel rooms” would not violate the Constitution, even coming from a foreign government, she said that Trump wanted to do “more than what the Constitution requires.”
“President-elect Trump decided and we are announcing today he’ll voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury. This way, it is the American people who will profit,” she said.
Watch Trump saying his sons will be “fired” if they don’t do a “good job” with his business, via MSNBC:
This post has been updated.
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