Trump plans blind trust to keep his businesses operating

Trump says he will hand over the management of his empire exclusively to his children

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(CNN) – President-elect Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed multi-billion dollar empire, and who will control it, is now under the microscope. What Trump will do with that empire is unclear.

His business dealings reach far past the borders of the United States. The Trump organization has holdings in at least 22 countries that we know of, including Panama, India, Turkey and Dubai.

By law, a president is not required to step down as CEO of a business. So, when it comes to what to do with the Trump organization, the president-elect’s options are limited says attorney Kenneth Gross, who advised past presidents.

Gross said, “Because of the breadth of his holdings and the nature of his holdings, they’re not easily sold. It’s not like owning 1,000 shares of IBM and you can sell them and rid yourself of a conflict that could arise.”

The one option Trump says he’ll adopt is setting up a blind trust. A blind trust involves having an independent trustee manage the company’s assets, without direct involvement from the CEO.

In Trump’s case, though, a blind trust is complicated.

Gross noted, “He would have to not know what he’s putting into the trust, and if you own Mar-a-Lago, or you own the Trump Tower and you put it into a blind trust, you don’t get amnesia and forget that you’ve owned this property.”

Another shade of gray.

Trump says when he takes office he will hand over the management of his empire exclusively to his children, instead of an independent trustee. Children who arguably have the same business interests as their father.

Rudy Giuliani, a top adviser to Trump who will likely serve in the administration, said there will be a clear separation between the Trump organization and the Trump presidency.

Giuliani said, “They’ll have to be a wall between them with regard to government matters.”

That wall is already blurred, as Trump’s oldest children, along with Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, currently have roles on the president elect’s transition team.

Additionally, Ivanka told 60 minutes, while she won’t serve in a formal administrative capacity, she will be involved with her father’s presidency.

Ivanka said, “I’ve said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues and that I want to fight for them.”