The filing reveals more evidence that the trust offers little barrier against President Trump making money from the hotels, golf courses, branding deals and other business interests that he has widely promoted during his presidency. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Newly released records show the trust agreement that Donald Trump used to put his adult sons in charge of his company allows him to draw money from it upon his request, illustrating the thin divide between the president and his private fortune.
The filing, first reported by ProPublica and found on page 161 of 166 of a bundle of documents released last week by the General Services Administration, says the trust that owns hundreds of Trump businesses “shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request,” or whenever his son and longtime employee “deem appropriate.”
Trump and his attorneys have pointed to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust as a response to widespread worries from ethics lawyers, who have said Trump’s refusal to divest ownership of his company creates the potential that he can derive personal profit from his public office.
The filing — signed Feb. 10 by the trust’s managers, Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg — reveals more evidence that the trust offers little barrier against Trump making money from the hotels, golf courses, branding deals and other business interests that he has widely promoted during his presidency.
Trump has visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his luxury hotel in Washington and other Trump-brand properties for nine weekends in a row.
“He’s still the beneficiary of all these assets. He is still entitled to the income and the profits of the trust if he wants them,” said Beth Shapiro Kaufman, the president of law firm Caplin & Drysdale, who reviewed the trust document. “Has he put these things out of his control and out of his personal benefit? The answer is no.”
The filing summarizes Trump’s trust agreement, which has not been made public, and it is does not make clear whether the “at his request” provision is a change to the trust or simply an additional detail of the broader trust.
Trump Organization spokesperson Amanda Miller said the trust was not changed but did not respond to further questions. Bobby Burchfield, a veteran Republican Party attorney whom the Trump company named as its outside ethics adviser, declined to comment, saying it was not something he has been involved in.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump’s trust was not changed and defended its use. “A blind trust, or…