Before President Trump even officially took office, concerns circulated about how he was going to avoid conflicts of interest with his numerous businesses. In an attempt to assuage these concerns, Trump released a letter shortly after his inauguration that announced his resignation from “each and every office and position” that he held. The letter, dated January 19, also included a list of the more than 400 corporate entities from which Trump was resigning.
After this letter was released, Alex Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said that the company would update all official state records to reflect Trump’s resignation.
In early June, however, The Intercept found that, after six months in office, Trump was still listed as the CEO or president of several of the businesses listed in his resignation letter.
After receiving multiple calls and emails from The Intercept asking why Trump was still listed as the leader of the companies, a few them finally made new filings that replaced Trump with members of his family and other Trump Organization employees. Several others have still not made any changes, though.
In a statement to The Intercept, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said that Trump’s late filings were another sign that his “business entanglements” have resulted in a lack of accountability and transparency. Cummings, who has repeatedly criticized Trump for not fully divesting himself from his businesses, added:
‘I agreed with President Trump when he said that no one is above the law. That principle applies to him as well. He must fix this.’
When questioned about the late filings and the companies that still list President Trump as their CEO, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders redirected inquiries to the Trump Organization. The organization merely told The Intercept that Trump has “resigned from all entities as previously stated and reflected on his public financial disclosure form.”
It is not only Democrats like Cummings who are troubled by Trump and his organization’s failure to promptly document the changes in leadership. Richard Painter, who previously served as the White House’s chief ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, said that the lack of action is a sign that the president does not take ethics seriously.
‘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.’
President Trump is currently facing three lawsuits accusing him of violating the emoluments clause. One comes from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, another from the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland, and the third comes from nearly 200 congressional Democrats. He and his cronies might not be particularly concerned with the late filings discovered by The Intercept, but the plaintiffs in these three lawsuits surely will be.
Considering all the scandals the president is currently dealing with, one would think he’d be doing everything he could to avoid any new ethics complaints. Clearly, though, that is not the case.
Featured image via Ukas Michael – Pool/Getty Images.