President Donald Trump’s real estate and merchandising business filed paperwork in Florida Monday removing Trump as an officer in various corporate entities, a sign that he is following through on his pledge to shift away from managing his businesses during his time in the White House.
Trump’s son Donald Jr., for instance, replaced his father as president of corporations associated with Trump’s private Palm Beach. Florida, club, Mar-a-Lago. Eric Trump was named president of a business associated with Trump’s Doral golf course and resort in Miami.
The filings did nothing to address the broader concerns from ethics experts that Trump’s decision to merely shift the management of the company – while retaining his ownership stake – has created ethical conflicts of interest because the president stands to personally benefit from decisions his administration makes that boost his businesses.
But the filings provide the first public confirmation that Trump is following through on his promise to step down from officer positions related to his global business empire.
On Friday, the investigative news service ProPublica reported that corporate filings in Florida, New York and Delaware had not changed despite Trump’s statement during a Jan. 11 press conference that he would change the structure of his business.
Also Monday, a Trump lawyer released to CNN an internal company letter dated Thursday, the day before his inauguration, in which Trump said he was resigning from 400 corporate entities associated with the Trump Organization. CNN reported that the list stretched 19-pages.
Representatives from the Trump Organization did not respond to requests from The Washington Post for a copy of the letter or for comment about the corporate filings.
Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon told reporters at Trump’s press conference earlier this month that the management changes would shield his presidency from the company’s day-to-day operations.
To emphasize the point, she stood beside a table full of manila folders, which she indicated contained the paperwork that would remove Trump from officer positions in the various corporate entities associated with the Trump Organization.
But the folders appeared to be a prop. Copies of the documents they were said to contain were not released publicly.
The issue arose Monday amid some confusion at the first weekday briefing held by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who initially said that, in fact, the documents had already been released.
Spicer deferred to Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who responded, “They’re not public at this time.”
Spicer added, however, that Trump had “resigned from the company, as he said he would before he took office.”
“Don and Eric are fully in charge of the company. He’s taken extraordinary steps to ensure that that’s happened,” he said.
Also Monday, the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a federal lawsuit against Trump, alleging he is in violation of a constitutional provision that prohibits Trump-owned businesses from accepting payments from foreign officials.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Rosalind S. Helderman