WASHINGTON — Donald Trump confirmed on Wednesday that he is in the process of leaving his “great business” to his children so he can focus on being the nation’s 45th president.
Rumors about the possible involvement the president-elect’s eldest children; Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., as well as son-in-law Jared Kushner; have circulated since Trump’s win three weeks ago.
Trump took to his preferred method of communication — Twitter — early Wednesday to put some rumors to rest.
“Legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations,” the president-elect tweeted after stating his children will take over his “great business in total” so he can “fully focus” on the presidency.
He plans to discuss the transition at a news conference in NYC on Dec. 15. His adult children are also expected to attend.
“While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses,” Trump tweeted.
The president-elect has been widely criticized for exposing himself to potential conflicts if he maintained any role in his global business.
Trump owns or has a position in more than 500 companies, according to a CNN analysis. That includes about 150 that have done business in at least 25 foreign countries, including Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
And while leaving the business to his children may be legal, the ethics behind the decision have bee hotly debated.
Many ethics lawyers have said the president should follow predecessors Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and use a blind trust — meaning Trump would sell his assets and put the proceeds in the hands of a trustee with “no preexisting business relationship” with him, said Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush.
“It certainly can’t be your own family members,” Painter said.
Trump’s family plan won’t solve problems caused by a constitutional prohibition on federal office holders from accepting a “present, emolument, office or title” from a foreign country, according to Painter.
“No matter what, they are going to have to unwind the business relationships with any foreign governments or company controlled by foreign governments,” he said.
Democrats in Congress have also made clear that they will raise the issue of conflicts of interests, although being in the minority limits their ability to hold hearings. But all of the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee recently signed a letter demanding that its Republican chairman, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, start reviewing Trump’s financial arrangements.
“Mr. Trump has exhibited a shocking level of disdain for legitimate bipartisan concerns about his conflicts of interest,” the letter said.
There have also been calls for the media for Trump to liquidate his business interests, including from the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page. But Trump told reporters and editors from The New York Times last week that selling his business would be “a really hard thing to do,” complicated by his real estate investments.
The fact that he will hold a news conference is significant in itself.
He has gone longer than any other recent president-elect without holding one, as most did within the first three days following their election.
While Trump has sat down for interviews with some journalists, including Leslie Stahl from 60 Minutes and the New York Times, he has not held a press conference since July 27, which was shortly after the Republican National Convention.
PIX11’s Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.