Great report from Pro Publica on President Donald Trump’s promise earlier this month to relinquish control of his companies by the inauguration. He has not done so.
You might remember the news conference where Trump appeared with giant stacks of papers in manila envelopes where he claimed were documents that gave “complete and total control” to his sons (journalists were not allowed to view the paperwork, leading to speculation that they were props rather than actual relevant documentation).
Pro Publica contacted officials in Florida, Delaware, and New York, where Trump would have had to file documents to place his companies in a family trust. Hasn’t happened. No one from Team Trump would comment to Pro Publica.
Trump has shown a consistent, public, well-documented pattern of making promises and then backing out of them, habitually lying, and simply making things up. If he’s actually going to keep his promise on this matter, there will be a verifiable and public paper trail. Otherwise, this appears to be a typical stunt, reliant on “alternative facts” (or in non-Orwellian terms: fiction).
Even if he does follow through, this will do almost nothing alleviate concerns about conflicts of interest. He still refuses to divest; his plan would keep family control of the businesses; there would still no transparency whatsoever about the scope of his assets, entanglements, potential conflicts, etc.; there would be no transparency about the terms of the trust; there is no evidence of clear rules or ethical standards to keep Trump insulated from the business or potential conflicts. It’s a sham. But in typical Trump fashion, thus far there is no evidence that Trump has even bothered to follow through with his promise to make the barest of efforts at the appearance of separation. He is in power and seems to believe that the rules do not apply him. It shows an utter contempt for the people he ostensibly serves. His promises aren’t worth a stack of blank pages stuffed into manila folders.
Pro Publica will continue to seek documentation to verify whether Trump ever follows through.