Statement by Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer

According to POLITICO article today, “Donald Trump’s vast business holdings will be placed into a blind trust with his three children in charge, according to the president-elect’s attorney.”

The so-called “blind trust” scheme outlined by Trump’s lawyer is absurd.

In a real blind trust, an independent trustee who has no connection to the beneficiary is appointed to manage the assets in the trust and that trustee is supposed to be the only one who knows what is being done in the blind trust.

The beneficiary who owns the assets and the beneficiary’s agents do not control or even know about the transactions being undertaken by the independent trustee. It is both the lack of knowledge or control by the beneficiary, and the independence of the trustee that protects against the beneficiary having conflicts of interest in the management of his assets.

But in the “so-called” blind trust for Trump, just the opposite will be the case.

Instead of an independent trustee, Trump’s children reportedly will be the ones managing the trust. They will know what is happening with the Trump assets in the trust and they will know the business transactions that are occurring. Trump almost certainly will as well.

The arrangement will not only fail to protect against conflicts of interest, it will facilitate conflicts. The trust will shield all information from the American people, while the Trump family will control what is taking place and have full knowledge of the transactions.

To the extent the Trump trust is doing business with foreign interests, the Trump family, not the American people, will know about those transactions and every one of them will involve a potential conflict of interest for President Trump. And under the proposed arrangement, there will no way to know if such conflicts of interest are occurring since the assets will be in a Trump-controlled blind trust.

Under these circumstances, Trump, as president, will be a walking conflict of interest and that problem will not be solved by the spurious blind trust scheme that is being proposed.

Last year in Vanity Fair article, I said that “if Hillary Clinton is elected president, all three Clintons should cut their ties with the [Clinton] Foundation for as long as she’s president.”

The same is true in the case of Donald Trump.

The only way for Trump to solve his conflict of interest problems is to appoint a trustee who is truly independent and who will ensure that the Trump family is entirely shielded from the transactions made by the trust. Or Trump could dispose of his business enterprise entirely.

Otherwise no one should be fooled by the Trump business empire being placed into a “blind trust” that is run by the Trump children.

This is nothing more than a scheme to keep hidden from the American people the Trump conflict of interests that can be expected to occur during a Trump presidency.