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Eric Trump to WSJ: Presidency Is Bad for Family's Business

Eric Trump to WSJ: Presidency Is Bad for Family's Business
Eric Trump (AP/Alex Brandon)

By    |   Wednesday, 19 April 2017 10:26 AM

Becoming commander-in-chief reportedly isn’t turning into the financial windfall you would expect it to be for the first family’s business empire.

But with Donald Trump in the White House, the family business has actually had to scale back plans and turn down some deals, Eric Trump, the president’s son, who with brother Donald Trump Jr. took over running the Trump Organization after the inauguration in January.

The Trump Organization is a private, family-run business that owns billions of dollars worth of assets including golf courses, hotels, office buildings, stores and management and licensing agreements.

While the company’s revenue and income are expected to continue to rise during Trump’s term in office, it will likely be at a slower rate, the Wall Street Journal quoted Eric Trump as saying, because of efforts to separate the Trump presidency from the family businesses.

“We would be doing 30 deals across the globe” were his father not the president, 33-year-old Eric Trump told WSJ.com.

The Trump Organization reportedly scrapped a licensing deal with Dubai investor Hussain Sajwani involving $2 billion in property. The Trump Organization has said it also has canceled real-estate licensing agreements in Brazil, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Just last week, talks ended between the Trump Organization and Turkish-born developer Mukemmel Sarimsakci over a deal for a Trump hotel in Dallas under its new Scion brand.

Eric Trump said the only information he can provide his father about the business under ethics procedures the company adopted is a quarterly report that shows profit and loss without any details.

“He’ll probably never ask,” he said of his father. “He has bigger fish to fry.”

Eric Trump said he doesn't care if the company’s growth rate stalls because he doesn't face shareholder pressure to boost a stock price. “Like every company, we expect our assets to perform better year after year,” he said. But he added, “I don’t need to grow.”

Meanwhile, the president’s “critics say any forgone business doesn’t mitigate the enormous conflict-of-interest issues he faces both in terms of legality and perception. These critics say the steps Mr. Trump has taken to separate his presidency from his business interests—including turning over management to his children and transferring his ownership to trusts—have been inadequate, largely because he remains the beneficiaries of those trusts,” the Journal explained.

“He gets the money,” said Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, who recently became vice chairman of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog. “You follow the money,” Painter told the Journal.

Ethics experts contend that despite any deals lost now, the Trump Organization could potentially benefit after Donald Trump leaves office.

“There might not be a signed deal while the president is in office,” said Kathleen Clark, a legal-ethics expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “But the concern is he could do favors for people in office with the expectation that he would receive a benefit sometime in the future,” Clark told the Journal.

For his part, late last year Eric Trump suspended the operations of his charitable foundation over concerns that donors could be seen as buying access to the Trump family, Reuters reported.

"No new money will come into the ETF bank account," Eric Trump wrote in an email message in late December, according to the Washington Post, in reference to the Eric Trump Foundation.

Eric Trump faced criticism for an online auction sponsored by his foundation offering the highest bidder a chance to have coffee with his sister, Ivanka.

The New York Times reported that bids had risen to more than $72,000, and that the top bidders were people seeking to influence Donald Trump's policymaking.

The foundation, which gives most of the money it raises to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, canceled the auction on Friday.

Eric Trump told the Times that he had decided to stop directly soliciting contributions to the foundation because he now recognized donors could be seeking access to his father.

"As unfortunate as it is, I understand the quagmire," Trump told the Times. "You do a good thing that backfires."

(Newsmax wires services contributed to this report).

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Amid concerns over conflicts, real-estate company is forgoing some deals
Eric Trump, Presidency, Bad, Family, Business, Donald Trump
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 10:26 AM
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