On Saturday, the New York Times reported that before Donald Trump is sworn into office, his controversial Donald J. Trump Foundation will be shut down. A number of publications, including the Washington Post, had highlighted serious concerns about the activities of the Trump Foundation during Trump's presidential campaign and after he was elected. The nonprofit is currently being investigated by the New York attorney general.
Update: Donald Trump has confirmed he will be shutting down the Donald J. Trump Foundation. In a press release from his transition team, the president-elect stated: "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.”
According to the New York Times report, the Trump family is contemplating a number of steps to resolve "potentially crippling questions over conflicts of interest," not just ones related to the Trump Foundation. However, it noted that the "planned dissolving of the Donald J. Trump Foundation might be the most resonant, given the enormous controversies surrounding controversies surrounding the non-profit."
The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold investigated the Trump Foundation and the president-elect's other claims about charitable donations. He reported in October that "After calling 420-plus charities with some connection to Trump, The Post found only one personal gift from Trump between 2008 and the spring of this year." Fahrenthold also reported that Trump had used $258,000 from his charity to settle lawsuits related to the president-elect's personal businesses. Trump's team did not responded to his request for comment.
Fahrenthold also reported in November that based on what appeared to be a copy of the Donald J. Trump Foundation's IRS tax filings (which had been shared on GuideStar, a website which tracks non-profit), the nonprofit had admitted to violating laws against "self-dealing," using a non-profit to the advantage of themselves, their family, or their businesses. Again, Fahrenthold noted that Trump's team did not respond to his request for comment at the time of publication.
Even if, as the New York Times reported, Trump plans to shut down his foundation, there are still a number of conflict of interest concerns regarding his business and his children's potential role in his administration, which have raised red flags from people on both sides of the aisle. There's been significant attention to his Washington D.C. Trump International Hotel amid allegations that foreign leaders have been booking stays there to curry favor with the president-elect. ThinkProgress reported this week that the Kuwait Embassy switched an event from the Four Seasons in Georgetown to the Trump Hotel under political pressure. However, the Kuwaiti ambassador denied the allegation.
Richard Painter, who was George W. Bush's chief White House ethics lawyer, has criticized Trump's failure to set up a proper blind trust and disentangle from his many businesses. Specifically, he has criticized Trump for saying his children's leadership of his businesses would be an adequate solution. “Even if he does not operate the businesses, you’re going to have lots of people working for the business running around the world trying to cut deals,” Painter told the Washington Post “And it’s critical that none of those people discuss U.S. business in a way that could be interpreted, or misinterpreted, of offering quid pro quo … or soliciting a bribe on the part of the president.”