President-elect Donald Trump reportedly sold all of his shares in companies in June, a move that could lessen some conflict of interest issues as the real estate mogul moves to take over the Oval Office next month.
Many have raised concerns with Mr. Trump’s business ties and the ways in which they could clash with the best interest of the nation. While he has said in the past he plans to put his business assets into a blind trust and allow his three eldest children to operate it, financial experts say the nature of that idea conflicts the concept behind a blind trust, and that the only way for Trump to avoid messy situations as president would be to sell his entire real estate empire.
While Trump’s stock portfolio is estimated to comprise only a small portion of his fortune, experts say eliminating it could help the president-elect to avoid some ethical issues moving forward.
A spokesman for Trump told The Washington Post Tuesday that the president-elect had sold his stock portfolio in June, but declined to answer questions regarding the shares’ value, why they were sold, and if Trump has bought anything new since.
Trump had between $50,000 to $100,000 of Boeing stock when he filed his personal financial disclosure on May 15. It also showed that he held as much as $38 million in stocks of companies including Citigroup Inc., Apple Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Ford Motor Co., in addition to Boeing, Bloomberg reported.
Boeing's stock price dropped sharply then rebounded Tuesday after Trump tweeted about the cost of a new Boeing Air Force One.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
Tuesday marked the first indication that Trump had made any sale involving his stock portfolio, and a lack of available documentation related to his taxes has made it difficult to make concrete determinations about the president-elect’s financial holdings.
But once he takes the oath of office, some aspects of Trump’s finances will become more transparent. During his first term, law will require Trump to release a financial disclosure form, which would include details about his stock holdings. He will also be subject to the 2012 STOCK Act, a law that requires elected officials to publicly disclose stock transactions worth $1,000 or more within 45 days.
Until then, it’s impossible to independently verify the claims, or determine how the profits were spent.
“We need to know, has he put them in conflict free assets ... or has he bought other stocks or assets that would create new conflicts?” Norm Eisen, an ethics counselor to President Obama, told the Post. “It’s all the more reason that we need a prompt and full financial disclosure. If he did liquidate all his stocks, what did he do with the money? What bank is the money in? What did he buy? It’s a lot of money.”
Since the election, Trump has given little detail about how he plans to proceed with his business interests. Last week, he tweeted that he plans to leave his business, but did not say what role his children, who have been close to his transition team, will play in the Trump businesses moving forward.
Trump has announced that he will hold a press conference with his children on Dec. 15 to disclose more details related to that transition.