Weisselberg still works at the company, according to one person familiar with the Trump Organization. But his resignation from those formal posts means that the company’s already small executive ranks have shrunk even further, at a time when the company faces a raft of financial and legal problems.
Here’s what we know — and what we don’t — about what’s happening at the Trump Organization now:
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is in charge of the Trump Organization now?
- Why is Trump’s business still run by a trust?
- If Trump can control his company now, why doesn’t he?
- What about Ivanka Trump?
- What is the Trump Organization doing now?
Who is in charge of the Trump Organization now?
Officially, its most powerful officer is now Donald Trump Jr.
The Trump Organization is controlled by the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust — a legal entity to which Trump transferred his hundreds of companies when he took office in 2017. The trust, in turn, is controlled by trustees. Previously, there were two. But after Weisselberg resigned, just one was left: Trump Jr., according to papers the company filed in New Jersey this month.
In a practical sense, people familiar with the company say, the company’s day-to-day leaders are Trump Jr., 43, and his younger brother Eric, 37. Eric, who lives in New York, usually plays a more active role, the people said, because Trump Jr. has moved to Florida and become more involved in politics. Despite his rise to the top of the company’s formal hierarchy, Trump Jr. has not listed an office address at New York’s Trump Tower — instead asking for his mail to be sent care of a Trump golf course near his new home in Florida, 1,200 miles away.
Why is Trump’s business still run by a trust?
In 2017, Trump’s attorneys said Trump would put his assets in a trust so that he could “relinquish management” of his businesses and avoid conflicts of interest as president. After leaving the White House earlier this year, he opted to leave the arrangement in place.
Why? The Trump Organization did not respond to that question, or any others that The Washington Post asked for this story.
But experts said that there was little reason for Trump to take his companies back from the trust. That’s because he never really gave up control of them in the first place.
“Why should he leave it in there? Why not? It does no harm,” said T. Randolph Harris, a partner specializing in trusts and estates at the New York law firm McLaughlin and Stern. “He has not in any way, shape or form given up control.”
Although Trump claimed the trust would keep his businesses at arm’s length while president, the kind of trust he used — a revocable trust — still left Trump himself with all the power. He could tell the trustees how to run the company. He could fire them if they disobeyed. And he could shut down the trust and take his businesses back whenever he wanted.
“The fact that it’s in a revocable trust means nothing” in terms of ceding power, said Bridget J. Crawford, a law professor at New York’s Pace University. “That’s the equivalent of passing something from the right hand to the left hand.”
Legal experts said that revocable trusts offer another benefit — but one that will only matter after Trump’s death. They allow wealthy people greater control over how their assets are distributed after they die.
“Anyone who’s the head of a large real estate operation is going to get advice to do exactly what” Trump has done, said William P. LaPiana, a professor who teaches trust and estates law at New York Law School.
If Trump can control his company now, why doesn’t he?
It’s unclear, from the outside, why the former president has not retaken his role as the company’s daily leader. Neither Trump’s company nor his post-presidential office have responded to questions about his role.
A person close to Trump said he appeared informed about some of the company’s businesses, bragging to associates about a remodeling project at one golf club and the profits being made at others.
But, the person said, Trump still appears more focused on politics than business — and focused on some lines of business more than others.
“You don’t hear him talk about the hotels, really. It’s the golf courses,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private interactions.
What about Ivanka Trump?
Ivanka Trump was a top executive at the Trump Organization before she joined her father in the White House. But she does not appear to have retaken any formal role at the company since she left, according to recent filings reviewed by The Washington Post. She has moved to Florida with her husband, Jared Kushner, whose family has its own real estate empire.
A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump declined to comment.
What is the Trump Organization doing now?
The company’s holdings declined during Trump’s presidency, as four hotels closed, the Trump merchandising empire shrank, and buildings took down the Trump name. The company was hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, by its politically toxified brand, and by the indictments of Weisselberg and two Trump corporate entities.
While Trump was in office, his sons said that they had placed restraints on their business — avoiding signing new deals to build Trump-branded buildings, to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.
Eventually, they said, the Trump Organization would lift those self-imposed restraints and start to grow again.
“When politics are over, we will resume doing what we do best which is building the best and most luxurious properties in the world — the interest in the Trump brand has never been stronger,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a 2019 statement, announcing that the company had shelved plans for a line of lower-cost hotels called Scion.
Since Trump left office, however, there has been little sign of that expansion. The company has not announced any new Trump-branded projects. It allowed the Scion trademarks to lapse. Instead of growing, it appears that the Trump Organization is in danger of shrinking further: In New York, the city is seeking to evict Trump’s company from a publicly owned golf course, and in Washington, the company has put its own D.C. hotel up for sale.