The Trump Organization said on Friday it was vetting new business structures aimed at transferring management control to three of President-elect Donald Trump’s children and a team of executives.
The Trump Organization said in a statement it was planning to transfer control of the portfolio of businesses to Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and other executives.
Earlier on Friday, the three Trump children – the oldest of Trump’s five children – were also named as members of Trump’s Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee.
“This is a top priority at the organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement.
Federal conflict-of-interest law does not apply to the president, but most White House occupants in the last few decades have voluntarily placed their assets in a blind trust to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.
Experts in government ethics said that giving over control to Trump’s children would do virtually nothing to prevent potential conflicts of interest, since there’s usually no daylight between one’s personal interest and the interest of one’s immediate family members.
“It doesn’t meet any of the standards of a blind trust if the kids are running the company,” said Kenneth Gross, a Washington lawyer who specializes in advising political clients on compliance and ethics.
Gross noted that the official transition team roles that Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump now have would appear to complicate matters further.
“If they’re going to be involved in government functions – and they’re starting down that road – and running the business, that’s going to make it very difficult to separate the government and business functions and deal with the conflicts of interest,” Gross said.
All three children already have roles in the Trump Organization, according to the company’s website. Ivanka Trump is executive vice president of development and acquisitions, charged with domestic and global expansion of the company’s real estate interests.
Donald Trump Jr is an executive vice president, and works to expand the company’s real estate, retail, commercial, hotel and golf interests nationally and internationally. Eric Trump is executive vice president of development and acquisitions, responsible for new project acquisition, development and construction globally.
Typically, a blind trust involves turning over assets to an independent financial manager with no prior relationship to the owner. In addition, a blind trust derives its name from the idea that the owner would no longer know what assets are sold or bought. For instance, someone with extensive stock holdings would have no way of knowing which companies’ shares he or she still owned in a blind trust.
Trump’s portfolio includes interests in hundreds of limited liability companies, many overseas, as well as numerous real estate properties both domestic and foreign.
Short of selling the entire Trump empire, experts said, he will find it difficult to create a trust sufficiently “blind” to avoid the possibility of any conflicts.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson, David Lawder and Joseph Ax; Editing by Eric Beech and Leslie Adler)