Trump sold all his shares in June, says spokesman

President-elect calls on US government to cancel Boeing order for new Air Force One

 US president-elect Donald Trump  and Son Masayoshi, CEO of SoftBank, meet the press following a meeting at Trump Tower in New York. Photograph: Albin Lohr-Jones/EPA

US president-elect Donald Trump and Son Masayoshi, CEO of SoftBank, meet the press following a meeting at Trump Tower in New York. Photograph: Albin Lohr-Jones/EPA

 

US president-elect Donald Trump sold all company shares in June, his spokesman has said, dumping the investments at a time when the Republican was preparing to fund an expensive general election campaign for the US presidency.

The sale of Mr Trump’s publicly held shares could disentangle the businessman from some potential concerns about conflicts of interest relating to his investments, though the trickier move will be the anticipated measures he makes to separate himself from his and his family’s various business interests.

The first non-politician and non-military leader to hold the presidency is due to announce his plans to distance himself from his business at a news conference with his children on December 15th.

Sell-off

A spokesman for the incoming president, who takes office after his inauguration on January 20th, disclosed the sell-off of shares in response to questions from reporters about Mr Trump’s call for the US government to cancel a deal with aircraft maker Boeing to build a new Air Force One.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion [€4.25 billion]. Cancel order!” the president-in-waiting tweeted on Tuesday.

His figures are higher than the US Government Accountability Office’s estimate that the entire programme to develop a modernised presidential jet would cost about $3.2 billion between 2010 and 2020.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller, responding to questions from reporters about Mr Trump’s shareholding in Boeing, said that the businessman sold all of his shares back in June. He has not disclosed the reasons for Mr Trump’s sale of the shares or how much he sold them for.

A financial disclosure form filed by the then Republican candidate last May showed that, as of December 2015, Mr Trump had up to $40 million in shares, including between $50,000 and $100,000 in Boeing shares – stock he had been accumulating for at least 3½ years.

Blurring lines

Mr Trump has been criticised by Democrats and watchdog groups for blurring the lines between his large business organisation and his role as president-elect. His daughter Ivanka sat in on his meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe last month when she is trying secure a licensing deal with a Japanese apparel company, part-owned by a Japanese state bank, for her range of fashion items.

The sale of the president-elect’s shares removes the potential for Mr Trump to profit personally from presidential decisions that could affect the value of his financial holdings, including his proposals to ease financial regulations and encourage energy production that would benefit oil, gas and coal companies.

Mr Trump has held shares in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the Dakota Access Pipeline that the Obama administration has rerouted following months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the pipeline that runs near one of their reservations. The Republican has said that he supports the project but denied that his policy was related to his one-time financial interests.

The soon-to-be-inaugurated president continued to tout his capacity to create jobs for the US economy. He made a rare appearance in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York in front of reporters to announce a $50 billion investment by Japan’s SoftBank, which owns US mobile phone company Sprint, and the telecom and ecommerce giant’s plans to create 50,000 jobs.