Trump Announces He Will “Dissolve” The Trump Foundation
Confirming an earlier report by the NYT, President-elect Donald Trump announced on Saturday afternoon that he plans to dissolve his charitable foundation and distribute its assets, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“The Foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children,” Trump said in a statement. “However, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways,” he added.
Trump, whose recent tweets have moved the stocks of such names as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is under pressure to contain his various potential conflicts of interest related to his business and charitable dealings ahead of his inauguration Jan. 20. Recently, Trump announced he had sold all his stock holdings to prevent “market-moving” conflicts of interest
The foundation, which has been the subject of several controversies and investigations, was originally set up to give away the proceeds from Trump’s bestselling book, “The Art of the Deal.” As The Hill writes, the book’s co-writer, Tony Schwartz, told CBS News he has received $1.6 million in royalties, per a 50-50 split agreement with Trump. A Washington Post investigation in June found that Trump had personally given his foundation $2.8 million of the book’s proceeds over the past 15 years, and nothing since 2009. The foundation itself has given more than $13 million to charity since it was founded, but only $4.9 million has come from Trump himself, according to the CBS report.
“I am very proud of the money that has been raised for many organizations in need, and I am also very proud of the fact that the Foundation has operated at essentially no cost for decades, with 100% of the money going to charity,” Trump said Saturday. “But because I will be devoting so much time and energy to the Presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world, I don’t want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest,” he added.
Despite widespread calls for Trump to release his tax returns both during the campaign and after the election, Trump has refused to do so, making it all but impossible to calculate the exact amount of his charitable donations.
Previously on Friday, Trump tweeted that his son Eric would also close his own charitable foundation, dedicated to raising money for children with cancer, to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Trump’s sons have distanced themselves from a fundraising scheme by the Opening Day Foundation, which offered $500,000 to $1 million packages to go on hunting and fishing trips with them. An auction offering a 45-minute coffee meeting with Trump’s daughter Ivanka was similarly canceled last week due to potential conflicts of interest.
The Times also reported Saturday that Trump has examined a plan to hire an outside monitor to oversee the Trump Organization as his team works to resolve potential conflicts of interest.
In retrospect, considering the massive damage the Podesta leaks inflicted upon the Clinton campaign as a result of the unexpected insights into the “pay-to-play” nature of the organization, and the funds flow between outside “donors” and the Clintons, shuttering any such potential conflicts of interest, not to mention latent scandals, certainly seems like the prudent thing to do with the Trump inauguration less than a month away.