President Donald Trump neglected to complete the necessary paperwork to divest himself from multiple businesses in spite of his promises to hand over the running of his private interests to his two sons.
The Intercept reported Wednesday that Trump's January press event in which he posed for the cameras with piles of "documents" -- they were later found to be blank stacks of paper -- and pledged to divest himself from his private businesses as president was a sham.
Trump hired tax attorney Sheri Dillon to manage the purported handover of control to the president's sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, but as the Intercept pointed out, the arrangement was still miles away from the traditional blind trust in which presidents place their assets while in office.
Months later, it appears the president couldn't even be bothered to adhere to the tenets of that modest plan.
"Shortly after his inauguration," wrote the Intercept's Mattathias Schwartz, "he released a letter, dated January 19. It appeared to show him resigning from more than 400 corporate entities connected to the Trump Organization’s businesses. Alex Garten, a Trump Organization lawyer, told CNN that the Trump Organization would update the company’s official state records 'in the ordinary course as and when required by law.'”
However, said Schwartz, research by the Intercept showed Trump "couldn’t even be bothered to promptly follow through on the very small promises made by Dillon to create the appearance of some separation between his presidency and his businesses. True to form, Trump promised the bare minimum and did even less."
The state of New York still has Trump listed as the CEO of four different businesses -- all of which he claims he has stopped running.
"Two of those entities made new filings on June 29 and June 30 that replaced Trump’s leadership with his immediate family and employees," Schwartz said. "The new filings were made after repeated phone calls and emails from The Intercept to the White House and the Trump Organization asking why Trump was still listed on state documents as being in charge of four Trump Organization entities."
“I agreed with President Trump when he said that no one is above the law,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to The Intercept. “That principle applies to him as well. He must fix this.”
As of mid-June, Trump was still listed as the CEO of Trump Las Vegas Corp., a company called 3126 Corporation, Trump Ferry Point Member Club and Trump Empire State Incorporated.
Former ethics lawyer to the George W. Bush administration Richard Painter -- who said earlier this week that under his administration, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. would already be "in custody" over their secretive dealings with Russian officials -- explained that this is typical of Trump.
“This shows the sloppiness Trump’s organization has with respect to ethics requirements. They don’t even want to do what they’ve said they’re going to do. They should be correcting the filings. People ought to be able to look and see who has the authority to act on behalf of these companies," he said.