The Slatest

Donald Trump’s Promise to Separate Himself From His Business Is Off to a Horrible Start

President Donald Trump kisses his son Eric Trump after his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump kisses his son Eric after his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Friday.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Donald Trump is officially the president of the United States of America. Now, then, is a good time to check in on his promise to “completely isolate” himself from the management of his family business before taking office. So how’d he do? Um, not well!

1. Trump was joined at the inauguration by his two sons Eric and Donald Jr. A president’s family members getting prime seats to his inauguration would normally be hardly noteworthy. These, though, aren’t normal times. Eric and Donald Jr., according to Trump himself, are now running the Trump family business, which the president himself retains a direct financial interest in. Trump might not be making management decisions at Trump Organization any more, but the company clearly benefits when its current and future business partners are reminded of the proximity to presidential power the company’s new top execs enjoy.

2. Standing on stage at Trump Tower last week, Donald Trump gestured to stacks of manila folders—purportedly full of legal documents related to his company—he had brought a long as props. “These papers are just some of the many documents I’ve signed turning over complete and total control to my sons,” he said then. Trump’s team rebuffed reporters who later asked for a peek inside those folders. But even if they did contain the necessary paperwork, that paperwork would still need to be filed to become official. As of Friday afternoon, that does not appear to have happened.

ProPublica asked officials in Florida, Delaware, and New York—three states were many of Trump’s businesses are registered—on Friday whether they had received the necessary filings. As of 3:15 p.m., the officials said they had not. ProPublica notes that there can be a day or two lag before documents are logged into the system in Florida, but that they are normally entered in the system in the other two states as soon as they are received. Either way, Trump and his legal team claimed everything had been finalized more than a week ago.

3. Trump, via a nesting doll of LLCs and financial trusts, remains the primary leaseholder for the Old Post Office Building in Washington, where the Trump International Hotel currently operates. Included in that 60-year government lease is a provision that states clearly that no “elected official” of the U.S. government “shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” President Trump, then, appears to now be in clear violation of that provision, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan government watchdog, filed a formal complaint with the federal agency in charge of the lease moments after he was sworn in.

The swirling conflicts of interest between the Trump administration and the Trump Organization are only going to grow worse once Trump settles into the Oval Office.