Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"The framers of our Constitution did not intend for presidents to put their own interests and corporations ahead of the American people." (Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr/cc)

Trump's "Half-Blind" Trust Blasted as Absurd

'By not disclosing and divesting, Trump is betraying his own voters by prioritizing his own corporate interests at the expense of working families'

Nadia Prupis

President-elect Donald Trump's team is reportedly considering setting up a "discretionary trust" that would allow Trump to distance himself from his businesses while still reaping their financial benefits—an arrangement that, as government watchdogs put it, is "inappropriate" at best and "a betrayal" at worst.

Politico on Wednesday reported that Trump aides were speaking with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) this week, indicating that the team is still attempting to sidestep ethical boundaries rather than abide by them. It's the latest in a series of steps by the family that suggest they are selling off access to the president and attempting to profit off Trump's rise to power.

"It's highly inappropriate," former ethics lawyer Richard Painter told Politico. "To have someone baby-sit your conflict-creating assets while you go around and do whatever you want, in my view that's a violation of at least the spirit of the rules and that's an abuse."

In a typical blind trust, an independent financial manager takes over the official's assets and handles them without input from the owner. Assets that are considered conflicts of interest—of which Trump has a historic amount—are sold off and replaced.

But, Politico's Josh Gerstein writes,

with a discretionary trust, the conflicts almost magically disappear because the investments aren't considered to belong to the incoming official at all—even if they're producing a steady stream of income for the official. Instead, the assets are held in a trust that is often overseen by a family member who can, but is not legally required to, send revenues from the assets to the government official. Another benefit: there's no explicit prohibition on the official talking with the trustee about the financial holdings.

"You don't have to disclose it, since you don't own it, Aunt Millie owns it," Painter said. "And it cures your financial conflicts of interest under the criminal statute. ... If you really have a discretionary trust, you can participate in government decisions that affect those assets—if they let you get away with it."

Kait Sweeney, press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), said that "by not disclosing and divesting, Trump is betraying his own voters by prioritizing his own corporate interests at the expense of working families. The framers of our Constitution did not intend for presidents to put their own interests and corporations ahead of the American people."

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats, led by Wall Street watchdog Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), announced plans to roll out legislation that would force Trump to "divest and disclose" financial assets that pose conflicts of interest.

Sweeney on Wednesday called on all Democrats to support that legislation—"and not hide behind absurd 'half-blind trusts'."

On Twitter, the reactions were acerbic.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·

UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·

'I Don't F—ing Care That They Have Weapons': Trump Wanted Security to Let Armed Supporters March on Capitol

"They're not here to hurt me," Trump said on the day of the January 6 insurrection, testified a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Jake Johnson ·

'Morally Bankrupt' G7 Slammed for 'Caving' to Fossil Fuel Lobby on Climate

"People in poverty around the world will pay the highest price for this backtrack by some of the wealthiest countries," one activist warned of the group's new statement on gas investments.

Jessica Corbett ·

Police Brutality on Display as Protesters Rail Against Post-Roe World

"Both the Dobbs decision and state repression of protest against it violate human rights," said the president of the National Lawyers Guild.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo