Trump says he intends to dissolve charitable foundation
WASHINGTONU.S. President-elect Donald Trump said Dec. 24 he intends to dissolve his controversial philanthropic foundation to avoid conflicts of interest, but the move was quickly complicated by an ongoing legal probe.
Trump’s sprawling portfolio of U.S. and overseas business interests and holdings - as well as his Donald J. Trump Foundation - have come under increased scrutiny in the weeks since his election.
The shuttering of his charity would be his first big step to avoid a brewing storm of potential conflicts of interest.
His private foundation has been at the center of several controversies - including how much money he has actually given it - and is under investigation by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.
In a statement to U.S. media on afternoon of Dec. 24 the attorney general’s office said Trump could not yet close the foundation.
“The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” AFP quoted Schneiderman spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick as saying.
Trump’s transition team said he had directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to close the foundation.
“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.”
The Democratic National Committee criticized Trump for not doing more to address potential conflicts of interest as he prepares to assume the presidency.
The Committee dismissed Trump’s move as “a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving.”
The statement from Democratic Party spokesman Eric Walker also said that closing a charity “is no substitute for divesting from his for-profit business and putting the assets in a blind trust.”
A Washington Post investigation in June said Trump had given just a fraction of the money he had promised to charity, and it was only after public pressure that he made good on a pledge to cough up $1 million to a nonprofit group for veterans.
His children have also come under the spotlight for their charitable enterprises.
Trump’s transition team this week denied a report that his sons were seeking donations of up to $1 million in exchange for possible post-inauguration access.
The Center for Public Integrity, an award-winning group that addresses ethics and other policy issues, said a nonprofit foundation was set up, making discreet potential pay-for-play possible.