Axelrod: Americans will be ‘blind’ on Trump business – The Hill
Democratic strategist David Axelrod says President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSeth MacFarlane on Trump: ‘We are in dark waters’ Tillerson won’t rule out Muslim registry Let America compete for the new FBI headquarters MORE‘s newly announced ethics plan still leaves Americans in the dark about potential conflicts of interest within his vast business empire.
“The public will be BLIND to details and asked to TRUST that there are no conflicts,” Axelrod, a CNN contributor, tweeted Wednesday.
.@realDonaldTrump version of blind trust: the public will be BLIND to details and asked to TRUST that there are no conflicts.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) January 11, 2017
Axelrod is a former senior adviser to President Obama and served as the chief strategist for both of his election campaigns. Axelrod’s remarks come hours after Trump held his first press conference since the election, in part to announce how he would handle his business as president.
The president-elect announced he is handing control of his business empire to his two adult sons during the event. Trump also revealed he would place his assets in a trust in order to address concerns about conflicts of interest.
“These are just some of the many documents I have signed turning over complete and total control to my sons,” he said at Trump Tower in New York City, standing beside a large stack of manila envelopes.
“They are not going to discuss [the business] with me,” Trump added of his sons. “Again, I don’t have to do this. They’re not going to discuss it with me.”
That falls short of the standards set by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, which has called for Trump to fully divest his holdings instead of merely transferring control of them. In a press briefing held after Trump’s press conference, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said that Obama had divested his own holdings in exchange for Treasury bills when he became president — a move Earnest said came at significant financial cost for Obama.
Sherri Dillon, a tax attorney at the law firm Morgan Lewis, also delivered an explanation of how the Trump Organization will be structured going forward.
Dillon said all of Trump’s assets, including his cash holdings and real estate properties, would be placed in a trust for his entire presidency.
The Trump Organization is hiring a chief compliance officer to ensure the business is “operating at the highest levels of integrity,” according to Dillon.
Trump’s agreement does not constitute a “blind” trust, however, which would leave both him and his family members without control of his business ventures.
Watchdogs have repeatedly argued that, short of divestment, such a trust is the only way Trump could truly separate himself from his private interests.
Dillon countered on Wednesday that selling off Trump’s business holdings would “exacerbate” conflict of interest concerns.
“President-elect Trump cannot be expected to destroy the company he built,” she said, noting a blind trust would remain actively involved in any sales process.