3 Promises With No Clear Evidence Of Progress

President Trump or a representative has promised to address, or claims to have addressed, the ethics issues in this category, but we have found no clear evidence to prove action.

Promise: Leave business "in total"

"I will be leaving my great business in total ..."

— Donald Trump, Dec. 7, 2016

To ethics experts, this promise would suggest a complete sale of all assets — or their placement in an independently run blind trust in a way that would completely preclude the president from acting to enrich himself while in office. This is traditionally done, in part, to give people, companies or governments no opportunities to influence the U.S. president by increasing his wealth.

Records show that Trump has moved his businesses into the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust. However, Trump also continues to own them, and the trust is set up for Trump’s "exclusive benefit.” The trust is run by Trump’s sons and a longtime Trump Organization executive. This arrangement does not satisfy ethics experts.

That means Trump is still exposed to possible attempts by companies, people or countries to sway his views or actions by how they treat his businesses. Ethics experts urge Trump to divest.

“The creation of the trust is irrelevant from the perspective of the Emoluments Clause and conflicts of interest,” ethics expert Kathleen Clark says, referring to the ban in the U.S. Constitution against foreign gifts, payments or other perks. “The only way to address and remove conflicts of interest is to remove the interests that conflict" and divest, she maintains.

Clark argues that Trump promotes his commercial interests while in public office by regularly visiting them and using them for official White House events, “resulting in free coverage of those businesses by the national and international press.”

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
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  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development December 2017

Reviews of the president’s travel by The Wall Street Journal, as well as NBC News, show that Trump so far has spent about a third of his time as president at his own properties, including luxury resorts, golf courses and hotels in Florida, New Jersey, Virginia and other locations.

During a swing through Hawaii in November, Trump visited the Trump International Hotel Waikiki. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later addressed the unexpected stop, calling the hotel a “tremendously successful project.” Days later, Trump himself plugged his New Jersey golf course during a speech at South Korea’s National Assembly, which was broadcast live across the U.S. and parts of Asia. On New Year’s Eve, Trump attended the party at his Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida, where the ticket prices were boosted from $575 for guests last year to $750 this year, according to Politico.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Development April 24, 2017

A State Department website removed an article about Trump's Mar-a-Lago club after criticism that it promoted the president's for-profit business using taxpayer funds. The article — originally posted on April 4 and reposted by at least two U.S. embassies — recounted the history and shared photos of the Florida resort that Trump calls his Winter White House.

The post has been replaced with a statement from the State Department: "The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception and have removed the post."

Source: NPR

Development April 3, 2017

The nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative outlet ProPublica discovered a new clause in Trump's trust documents, dated Feb. 10. It states: "The Trustees shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request, as the Trustees deem necessary for his maintenance, support or uninsured medical expenses, or as the Trustees otherwise deem appropriate." The trustees are President Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. and longtime attorney Allen Weisselberg.

As NPR's Peter Overby reports, "Essentially, the president can take money from his businesses whenever he wants." ProPublica notes that given that both the trust and the Trump Organization are privately held, nothing requires Trump to disclose when he takes profits from the trust.

Asked about this in a briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he wasn't aware of any withdrawals or any changes to the trust. "Just because a left-wing blog makes the point of something changing doesn’t mean it actually happened," Spicer said, referring to Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica. "The idea that the president is withdrawing money at some point is exactly the purpose of what the trust — why a trust — is set up, regardless of the individual," he added. Traditionally, the purpose of presidents setting their finances aside in a trust is to separate personal interests from those of the public.

Source: ProPublica

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

At the press conference on Trump's plans to separate his businesses from his presidency, Trump's lawyer Sheri Dillon said: "Selling, first and foremost, would not eliminate possibilities of conflicts of interest. ... If President-elect Trump sold his brand, he will be entitled to royalties for the use of it. ... You cannot have a totally blind trust with operating businesses. President Trump can't unknow he owns Trump Tower. ... Further, it would be impossible to find an institutional trustee that would be competent to run the Trump Organization."

Source: NPR

Statement Nov. 30, 2016

In a series of tweets from his personal account @realDonaldTrump, Trump promised: "I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! ... Legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations."

Source: Twitter

Statement Nov. 10, 2016

In an interview with CNN, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen said: “We're going to do it legally. It's going to be placed into a blind trust."

Source: CNN/YouTube

Statement Jan. 14, 2016

Asked at a Republican debate whether he would set up a blind trust, Trump said: "If I become president, I couldn't care less about my company. ... I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don't know if it's a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. But — is that a blind trust? I don't know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives. And I wouldn't ever be involved, because I wouldn't care about anything but our country. Anything."

Source: NPR

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Promise: Release tax returns, if it weren't for the IRS audit

"When the audit ends, I'll present them. ... By the way, people will learn nothing."

— Donald Trump, May 13, 2016

Though U.S. presidents aren't required to release their tax returns, Trump's predecessors have done so since the 1970s as a gesture of transparency.

Without tax records, Trump's claimed wealth, business success and charitable giving remain unconfirmed and his global web of financial ties, obscure. The president additionally faces unresolved allegations that he had not paid federal income taxes for years.

The Internal Revenue Service has said that audits do not prevent individuals from sharing their own tax information. Trump's team has released a letter from his tax attorneys confirming "continuous" IRS audits since 2002. It has not shared any correspondence from the IRS itself.

“He is violating a norm of conduct of past presidents over the last 40 years,” ethics lawyer Kathleen Clark says. Incidentally, former President Richard Nixon had released his taxes while they were under audit.

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Statement May 11, 2017

In an interview with The Economist, Trump says he might release his taxes after he leaves office.

“At some point I’ll release them,” Trump says. “Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.” His adviser Hope Hicks then interjected: “Once the audit is over.” Then Trump continued: “I might release them after I’m out of office.”

Source: The Economist

Development March 14, 2017

Two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax returns were disclosed on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” by journalist David Cay Johnston, to whom they had been mailed anonymously. The document showed Trump paid about $38 million in taxes on income of about $150 million – numbers that the White House has confirmed. The two pages of Form 1040 did not show any sources of income. Knowing where Trump gets his income has been the key reason for ethics experts to demand release of Trump’s full tax records. For 2005, the forms indicated an effective tax rate of 25 percent after write-offs of more than $100 million in business losses. The White House condemned the leak of the forms as illegal and attributed the business losses to “large-scale depreciation for construction.”

Source: NPR

Statement Jan. 23, 2017

In a Jan. 22 interview on ABC, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Trump won't release his tax returns and "people didn't care." But the next day, Conway tweeted about the audit: "On taxes, answers (& repeated questions) are same from campaign: POTUS is under audit and will not release until that is completed. #nonews"

Source: Twitter

Statement Sept. 6, 2016

In an interview with Fox News, Trump reissued his ongoing promise to release the tax return documents: "When the audit is complete I will release my returns. I have no problem with it. It doesn’t matter.”

Source: YouTube

Statement May 13, 2016

In an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, Trump argued his tax returns wouldn't be informative: "I will really gladly give them — not going to learn anything — but it’s under routine audit. When the audit ends, I’ll present them. That should be before the election. ... Almost every lawyer will tell you the same thing — When you’re under audit, you finish the audit before you release. ... By the way, people will learn nothing."

Source: ABC News

Statement Feb. 25, 2016

Challenged by Mitt Romney in a Republican debate, Trump cited an audit by the Internal Revenue Service: "As far as my return, I want to file it except for many years, I've been audited every year. Twelve years, or something like that. Every year they audit me, audit me, audit me. ... I will absolutely give my return but I'm being audited now for two or three years, so I can't do it until the audit is finished, obviously."

Source: Politico

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Promise: Dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation

"I have decided to ... pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways."

— Donald Trump, Dec. 24, 2016

A series of reports have suggested misdealings by the Trump Foundation, such as the use of foundation funds to buy a 6-foot portrait of Trump or to resolve legal troubles of his for-profit businesses.

In tax filings for 2015, the Trump Foundation appeared to admit a violation of IRS rules against self-dealing, using charity money to benefit its leaders, their businesses or their families.

The foundation cannot legally dissolve while it remains under investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The office’s spokeswoman, Amy Spitalnick, says the foundation’s fundraising activities remain suspended based on Schneiderman’s order citing the foundation for not properly registering in the state. She did not provide a timeline for the investigation.

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development Nov. 15, 2017

New tax documents included a note that “the Foundation announced its intent to dissolve and is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds.” But the New York attorney general is still investigating and continuing to legally prohibit the foundation’s dissolution. The filings also showed that Trump’s charitable foundation raised nearly $2.9 million in contributions in the election year 2016 — $1 million more than it had received in the previous three years combined.

Source: NPR

Statement Dec. 24, 2016

In a press statement, Trump announced plans to dissolve the Trump Foundation, saying: "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. 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."

Source: NPR

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3 Promises With Some Evidence Of Progress

There is evidence that Trump has taken some action to address, or begin addressing, the ethics concerns in this category.

Promise: Accept no salary

"I’ll take $1 a year."

— Donald Trump, Nov. 13, 2016

By law, presidents are required to accept some pay, determined to be $400,000 a year, paid monthly. Wealthy presidents have in the past declined it: John F. Kennedy donated his compensation to charity and Herbert Hoover gave away his to charity or to supplement the incomes of his staff.

According to the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, the president by law has to receive the full amount of $400,000 per year, though he can choose to donate it. So far, the White House has announced Trump’s contribution of his salary from the first three quarters of 2017 to the National Park Service, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. Donations to the government are tax-exempt.

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Evidence Nov. 30, 2017

The White House announces that Trump donated his third-quarter salary of $100,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services for programs to raise awareness of the opioid crisis. This followed the declaration of a public health emergency to deal with the epidemic. Congress is spending $500 million a year on addiction treatment programs.

Source: USA Today

Evidence July 26, 2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, at a White House briefing, said that Trump was donating his second-quarter salary of $100,000 to the Department of Education for a camp program focused on science, technology, education and math. Earlier in 2017, Trump proposed a budget blueprint that would have cut the department’s budget by about 14 percent, or $9.2 billion, but Congress rejected the cuts.

Source: The Washington Post

Evidence April 3, 2017

At a press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer presented a large-sized check from President Trump – in the amount of $78,333 – to the National Park Service. "It is every penny that the president received from the first quarter to the day,” Spicer said. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the donation will be spent on maintenance of the infrastructure on historic battlefields. Earlier this year, Trump proposed a budget blueprint that would cut the funding to the Interior Department by 12 percent, or $1.5 billion, though it's unclear how that would impact the National Park Service specifically.

Source: The Washington Post

Statement March 13, 2017

At a press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump plans to donate his salary at year’s end. He added that Trump “kindly asked that you (reporters) all help determine where that goes." Reporters chuckled. Spicer added: "In all seriousness, I think his view is he made a pledge to the American people, he wants to donate it to charity, and he'd love your help to determine where it should go.” He did not explain how reporters should offer their advice, and whether Trump would donate the entire $400,000, or the amount left after paying income taxes.

Source: NPR Correspondent Tamara Keith

Statement Nov. 13, 2016

Post-election, Trump told CBS News that he would take a $1 salary instead of the $400,000 usually given to a president: "I think I have to by law take $1, so I’ll take $1 a year. But it’s a — I don’t even know what it is. … No, I’m not gonna take the salary. I’m not taking it."

Source: CBS News

Statement Sept. 17, 2015

At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Trump announced: “The first thing I’m going to do is tell you that if I’m elected president, I’m accepting no salary, OK? That’s not a big deal for me.”

Source: The Daily Mail

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Promise: Withdraw from management (by inauguration)

"I will be leaving my businesses before January 20th ..."

— Donald Trump, Dec. 12, 2016

The law technically does not prohibit presidents from having a second job, but the presidency is an all-consuming task. Trump assumed office with an unprecedented amount of financial entanglements, having stakes in more than 500 businesses around the world.

Though some of the paperwork is dated after the inauguration, Trump’s team has been filing proper documents to formally transfer management of hundreds of companies from Trump to his sons. Because Trump has hundreds of businesses covering about 20 countries, reporters have not yet confirmed whether every single entity has undergone a management change.

As of April 2017, Trump SoHo was the one business still listing Trump as a manager in state filings, according to ProPublica, the independent nonprofit news service tracking Trump’s contracts. Amid slumping sales, Trump SoHo’s owners and the Trump Organization have cut ties.

Trump’s resignation from managing his companies — while continuing to own them — might help to make sure the president isn’t distracted by a second job, says ethics expert Kathleen Clark, but it “does nothing to address the concerns that he will use government power to enrich his companies." Though the Trump Organization appears to have removed Trump’s name from liquor licenses and other state and city records, Clark says Trump continues to promote his companies. Also, “we know he is in communication” with his sons who manage his businesses, Clark says. “We simply can’t verify that he’s not participating in the management of these companies.”

Status of ethics promise
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  • Evidence of action
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  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development Nov. 22, 2017

The Trump Organization says it is severing ties with the controversial Trump SoHo building in Manhattan, ending the licensing deal for the Trump name. The Trump Organization also managed the day-to-day operations and Trump was among the managers listed on state liquor licenses, according to ProPublica.

The hotel has had a controversial history. And in the past year, the five-star hotel had to drop prices in the struggle to attract guests. Its main restaurant closed, citing a drop in business since Trump’s election. The hotel’s owner, private-equity firm CIM Group, has agreed to buy out the Trump Organization and renamed the hotel “The Dominick.”

Source: NPR

Evidence Jan. 23, 2017

Trump begins to file documents with state authorities in Florida, turning over management of his companies in the state to his sons. Later in the month, real estate publication The Real Deal reported that Trump began moving his New York City real estate portfolio into the trust on Dec. 31, citing city property records.

The developments came after a Jan. 20 report by ProPublica, an independent nonprofit news service, which had contacted officials in Florida, Delaware and New York and found no evidence of proper paperwork formally completing the shift in management.

Source: NPR

Statement Jan. 23, 2017

In a White House news briefing, spokesman Sean Spicer reiterated the claim: "He has resigned from the company, as he said he would, before he took office. Don and Eric are fully in charge of the company. He has taken extraordinary steps to ensure that that’s happened."

Source: CBS News

Statement Jan. 19, 2017

Trump signs a letter to resign from positions at 488 companies and business interests, though further government paperwork would be required to complete the process.

A CNN report on Jan. 23 revealed the document, dated the day before inauguration, in which Trump resigns from all offices and positions at hundreds of companies.

Source: CNN

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

During his first press conference as president-elect, Trump reaffirmed the planned shift of management: "My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. ... [I am] turning over complete and total control to my sons.

Source: NPR

Statement Dec. 12, 2016

Trump tweeted that his adult sons would take the reins of his businesses before inauguration: "Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my businesses before January 20th so that I can focus full-time on the … Presidency. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them."

Source: Twitter

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Promise: Sell all stocks

"I don't think it's appropriate for me to be owning stocks ..."

— Donald Trump, Dec. 7, 2016

Though not required by law to do so, presidents have historically divested their financial holdings or put them in a blind trust. Most of Trump's assets are in real estate, brand licensing and other businesses, which he has refused to sell or put in a blind trust, but a small portion of his wealth was reported as invested in stocks.

Trump’s lawyer has asserted that the president has sold off his stock holdings. However, the White House has not provided evidence, such as brokerage documents or an IRS Form 8949. “If it actually happened, it’s a move in the right direction,” Clark says. “But it leaves a big part of the problem unaddressed — his continuing ownership of the Trump Organization.” If people wanted to curry favor, she says, they would more likely do so through his privately held companies than the public companies behind his stocks.

Status of ethics promise
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  • Evidence of action
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  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Evidence June 14, 2017

Trump’s personal financial disclosures show capital gains on individual stocks that suggest a sale of shares before April 14, 2017. The form appears consistent with the pledge to sell all stocks, though it does not disclose exact amounts. The form also shows continued holdings of index or other funds, though such investments are diversified and therefore do not create conflicts for federal officials.

Source: Office of Government Ethics

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

During Trump's first press conference as president-elect, his lawyer Sheri Dillon said: "The President-elect has also already disposed of all of his investments in publicly traded or easily liquidated investments."

Source: NPR

Statement Dec. 7, 2016

On NBC's Today show, Trump said: "I was never a big stockholder but I bought a lot of different stocks. I had a lot of stocks before then too. And what I did is I sold them. I just don't — I don't think it's appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I'm making deals for this country that maybe will affect one company positively and one company negatively. I just felt it was a conflict."

Source: NBC/YouTube

Statement Dec. 6, 2016

Trump's spokesman Jason Miller told The New York Times: "The president-elect sold all his stock holdings in June."

Source: The New York Times

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4 Promises To Watch While Trump Is President

The issues in this category cannot be resolved with a simple action; rather, these promises apply to the entire course of President Trump's term.

Promise: Accept no foreign profits from Trump hotels (including the one in Washington, D.C.)

"He is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury."

— Sheri Dillon, lawyer for Trump, Jan. 11, 2017

The Constitution prohibits presidents from accepting “emoluments" — from the Latin emolumentum, meaning “profit” or “gain." The Emoluments Clause bars officeholders from accepting foreign gifts or emoluments without congressional approval. The idea is to prevent foreign governments from influencing U.S. officials.

Regarding foreign stays in the U.S., the Constitution does not spell out what constitutes an emolument, so the law is vague. Several lawsuits have argued that payments by foreign governments to Trump-owned businesses violated the Emoluments Clause, though one case has been dismissed.

In March, the Trump Organization said it would use standard lodging-industry accounting and financial reporting guidance to transfer “profits from foreign government patronage” on an annual basis at the end of the year.

In May, the Trump-owned company released a pamphlet saying that the company would not, in fact, try to identify foreign officials traveling on government business, unless those people identified themselves, because the process is impractical and would “diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

Ethics expert Kathleen Clark says this approach amounts to “a road map for foreign governments to pay Trump’s businesses and line Trump’s pockets.” She also argues that as an attempt to avoid emoluments violations, the promise itself is too narrow. “It’s payments from foreign governments — not just profits from those payments,” she says, “and it’s payments to all Trump businesses — not just hotels.” The Treasury Department did not respond to NPR's questions about potential donations from Trump's businesses.

This matter also does not resolve separate concerns about Trump’s luxury hotel in Washington, D.C. The property is owned by the federal General Services Administration and the contract specifically prohibits leasing to federal elected officials. Trump has put the hotel’s management under his son and moved it into a trust, though he is the trust’s sole beneficiary and remains the company’s owner.

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development Dec. 21, 2017

A federal judge in New York dismisses a lawsuit alleging that Trump is violating two anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution. Judge George Daniels says the plaintiffs, led by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, lacked the necessary legal standing to sue. He says Congress has the power to act on the Emoluments Clause.

Two other emoluments-related lawsuits are pending: one from 200 Democrats in Congress; another from the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Source: NPR

Development May 24, 2017

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked the Trump Organization to outline how exactly it was identifying, calculating, tracking and reporting foreign profits. What it received in response was a copy of a glossy nine-page brochure that had been distributed to senior Trump Organization employees worldwide, outlining a foreign-profits policy.

The pamphlet states: "To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand. It is not the intention nor design of this policy for our Properties to attempt to identify individual travelers who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity on foreign government business."

The brochure also reiterated the company's plan to send the identified foreign funds to the Treasury on an annual basis after the end of the fiscal year.

Source: House Oversight Committee

Statement March 20, 2017

In a statement reported by Politico and later shared with NPR, Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller said: “The Trump Organization has developed and is implementing its policy to identify profits from foreign government patronage at our hotels and similar businesses within the scope of the policy. As is standard in the hospitality industry, we apply the accounting and financial reporting guidance provided for in the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry. The concept of profit is well understood in the hospitality industry, as are the pertinent accounting rules, for the Trump Organization to comply with the President’s voluntary directive. The donation will be made on an annual basis after the end of each calendar year.

Source: Politico

Development Feb. 22, 2017

The Kuwaiti Embassy held a 600-guest celebration of Kuwait National Day at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Trump Organization has not revealed the profits it made from the party, hosted by the Kuwaiti ambassador, or when those profits will be transferred to the U.S. Treasury.

As of March 1, NPR has received no response from the Trump Organization's lawyer Alan Garten or spokeswoman Amanda Miller. Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for Trump, said she doesn't comment on a client's activities. The White House referred all questions about the Kuwaiti celebration to the Trump Organization.

Source: NPR

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

At the press conference about Trump's plan to separate himself from his businesses, Trump's lawyer Sheri Dillon said: "Paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present, and it has nothing to do with an office. ... President-elect Trump has decided — and we are announcing today — that he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury."

Source: NPR

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Promise: "No new deals" by the Trump Organization while Trump is president

"No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office."

— Donald Trump, Dec. 12, 2016

This promise was later changed by Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon to “no new foreign deals,” while domestic deals would be allowed after “vigorous vetting.”

Since President Trump remains the owner of his hundreds of businesses, his finances remain tied to the operations of his companies. That allows the possibility that the treatment of his businesses might influence his views and with that, U.S. policy. Payments from foreign powers to U.S. officeholders, in particular, are prohibited under the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Trump Organization says it has dropped or shelved projects in several countries, but it's also pressing ahead ahead with expansions in others, arguing that new phases of previously negotiated deals do not amount to new deals. Trump’s sons are also developing two new domestic hotel brands: a budget-friendly chain, American Idea, and a four-star line called Scion, with the first location in Cleveland, Miss.

“This promise is like a mirage — when you take a close look at it, it disappears. Because it uses an undefined term — deal,” Clark says. “Its intention seems to be provide the appearance of doing something while actually committing to nothing in particular.”

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development September 2017

A Chinese state-owned construction company is announced as the winner of a $32 million contract to work on a Trump golf course development in Dubai. Trump does not own the development but licenses his name to the developer, which awarded the contract to build the roads in the residential area.

This is among several developments that the Trump Organization continues to pursue around the world; other locations include the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Uruguay and India.

Source: McClatchy

Developments January-February 2017

The Trump Organization says it has dropped or shelved projects in several countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Israel and Vietnam. But the company will press ahead with multimillion-dollar plans to expand one of the president-elect’s golf resorts in Scotland, as well as resort projects planned in Indonesia.

"Implementing future phasing of existing properties does not constitute a new transaction so we intend to proceed,” a Trump Organization spokeswoman told the Guardian.

Trump's company has also revived interest in a deal in the Dominican Republic. New membership fees at the Mar-a-Lago club, which Trump has called his "Winter White House," have doubled to $200,000.

Source: The Guardian

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

At Trump's first press conference as president-elect, his lawyer Sheri Dillon adjusted the language of the original "no new deals" promise, specifying that no new foreign deals would be done: "No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of President Trump’s presidency. New domestic deals will be allowed, that they will go through a vigorous vetting process."

Source: NPR

Statement Dec. 12, 2016

Trump made this promise in a tweet: "No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office."

Source: Twitter

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Promise: No mention of Trump as president by the Trump Organization

"No communications of the Trump Organization ... will reference or be tied to President-elect Trump's role as president ..."

— Sheri Dillon, lawyer for Trump, Jan. 11, 2017

President Trump continues to own more than 500 businesses around the world. This unprecedented position creates the potential for his business interests to affect the national interests he represents as president. Ethics expert Kathleen Clark says the ethics concern is a broad one: the need for a clear separation between the Trump administration and Trump businesses, managed by his sons.

On Jan. 21, 2017, the official Facebook account of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., published a photo of the hotel’s staff in front of the building with a caption: "Thank you Mr. President!" The same photo was also posted on the hotel's official Instagram account. Ethics experts say Trump's visits to his for-profit properties give free promotion to his corporate brand.

“We don’t want people confusing Trump businesses with the government of the United States of America,” Clark says. “That means that we don’t want the government to endorse Trump businesses and we don’t want public office to be used to enrich Trump business.”

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development November 2017

The Trump Organization starts selling Trump-branded merchandise on a new website, TrumpStore.com; the store does not refer to Trump as president but offers T-shirts, caps, mugs, robes and other items emblazoned with Trump’s name. The profits go to the Trump-owned company, currently managed by his sons. The new website is not to be confused with the online shop at DonaldJTrump.com, whose proceeds go Trump’s re-election campaign.

Source: NPR

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

At a press conference about Trump's business plans during the presidency, his lawyer Sheri Dillon said: "No communications of the Trump Organization, including social media accounts, will reference or be tied to President-elect Trump's role as president of the United States or the office of the presidency."

Source: NPR

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Promise: Appoint an ethics adviser to the Trump Organization

"An ethics adviser will be appointed ..."

— Sheri Dillon, lawyer for Trump, Jan. 11, 2017

Trump faces an unprecedented level of potential conflicts of interest as a sitting president who continues to own hundreds of business entities with interests in hotels, buildings and golf courses bearing his name around the world. He has not sold his assets or put them in a blind trust as past presidents have done. Ethics experts have warned about the blurring of the line between Trump's business interests and the national interests Trump represents as president.

The Trump Organization has pledged not to make any “new foreign deals” and make only domestic deals after a “vigorous vetting process.” The company has appointed Bobby Burchfield — former lawyer to George H.W. Bush and chairman of the Republican secret-money group Crossroads GPS — to advise on ethics. But ethics expert Kathleen Clark says the organization has not spelled out what standards Burchfield will follow in his work, and his independence and effectiveness should be watched over the duration of Trump’s time in the White House.

Status of ethics promise
  • Statement
  • Evidence of action
  • Resolution
  • Under Watch

Latest Development

Development Dec. 22, 2017

A report in The New York Times described Burchfield’s work as scrutinizing, among other things, potential partners and deals involving the government or worth more than $2.5 million — “to verify that the terms are at market rate and that potential partners, and their sources of financing, are appropriate.” Citing two people briefed on the process, the Times reported that Burchfied has raised concerns about several potential deals, resulting in their delay or cancellation. One of those now-dropped deals was a potential hotel in Dallas, which raised red flags for involving a businessman with ties to Russia and Kazakhstan.

Source: The New York Times

Development Jan. 25, 2017

Bobby Burchfield is appointed to advise the Trump Organization on ethics. Previously, he was counsel to President George H.W. Bush's 1992 re-election campaign, challenged campaign finance laws on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee, and chaired the Republican secret-money advocacy group Crossroads GPS.

Source: NPR

Statement Jan. 11, 2017

In a press briefing, Trump's lawyer Sheri Dillon announced the plan for the Trump Organization: "An ethics adviser will be pointed to the management team."

Source: NPR

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There Are No Resolved Ethics Promises