In an interview with ProPublica, Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten confirmed that President Trump can withdraw profits and underlying assets from his trust at any time.
He also said the president has been able to withdraw money since Trump took office on Jan. 20. That language was not included in a Jan. 26 summary of the trust — what’s known as a trust certification — but was included in a Feb. 10version of the document.
Asked about the change, Garten said the Trump Organization prepares different versions of the summaries to “highlight different things for different people.”Jonathan Chait writes at New York:
The full details of the trust are in what’s known as a trust agreement, which Garten said the Trump Organization will not release. He referred further questions about release of the trust agreement to the law firm of Morgan Lewis, which did not respond to a ProPublica request for comment. We have updated the story’s headline to reflect Garten’s comments.
In December Trump promised, “No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office.” In January, that pledge was scaled back to simply mean no new foreign deals. Accordingly, Trump’s company announced a massive expansion of its domestic hotel business. “There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we’re in five,” Trump Hotel chief executive Eric Danziger said in January. “I don’t see any reason that we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.”
Trump promised in January he would donate any profits at his hotels that came from foreign governments. When reporters found two months later that he had failed to do so, his organization promised the donations would happen at the end of the calendar year.
The main problem with Trump’s “separation,” of course, is that it operates on his say-so.
Without access to his tax returns, the extent of his business conflicts is a matter of guesswork to the public. And, with the president enjoying an idiosyncratic exemption from the strict conflict-of-interest requirements that bind other federal employees, the only enforcement mechanisms lie in Congress’s hands. Congress could require Trump to release his tax returns, but the Republican majority has voted down even these halting steps.