Put assets in blind trust? His kids will be out of work: Adviser

WASHINGTON • Mr Rudy Giuliani, a top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, has said that it would be "unrealistic" to remove Mr Trump's children from their roles in running his business empire and place the assets in a strict blind trust, like the ones used by previous presidents.

"I think he is in a very unusual situation," Mr Giuliani said on CNN's State Of The Union programme on Sunday.

"He would basically put his children out of work and they would have to go start a whole new business, and that would set up new problems."

As president, Mr Trump would not be required to sell his assets, which he has valued in billions of dollars. But the vast scope of his assets and business dealings is likely to lead to questions about how his actions as the leader of the United States would affect his and his family's financial fortunes.

Most modern presidents have elected to use a blind trust, which puts their assets under the control of an independent trustee.

The financial arrangement was one of a number of questions surrounding Mr Trump's transition efforts as his team moved towards announcing staff positions, tried to clarify the President-elect's agenda and sought to reassure those still questioning his fitness for office.

Mr Giuliani, a vice-chairman of the Trump transition team, said that fears of a conflict of interest were groundless. Mr Trump's three adult children, who hold leadership positions in his businesses, would not advise him as president, he added.

The three children - Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric - as well as Ms Trump's husband Jared Kushner are members of the executive council of Mr Trump's transition committee. Once Mr Trump takes office, Mr Giuliani said, the president will erect "a wall between them with regard to government matters".

"You have to have some confidence in the integrity of the president," he said. "I don't think there is any real fear or suspicion that he is seeking to enrich himself by being president. If he wanted to enrich himself, he would not have run for president."

To make a blind trust, Mr Trump would need to liquidate all his assets and then appoint an independent trustee to oversee them, a process made virtually impossible by the nature of his businesses, said Mr Norm Eisen, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, who previously served as the Obama administration's ethics czar.

Still, Mr Trump should not let his children help shape the government before they oversee his financial interests, Mr Eisen said.

"I do not think it is wise to have the children on the transition team under these circumstances," he said. "It sends an awful message. And I disagree with Giuliani. They should be focused on fairness to the American people, not fairness to the Trump children."

NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2016, with the headline 'Put assets in blind trust? His kids will be out of work: Adviser'. Print Edition | Subscribe