Trump announces plan to close foundation
© Getty Images
 
"The Foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children," Trump said in a statement.
 
"However, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways," he added.
 
A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Saturday that the Donald J. Trump Foundation cannot cease operations until a probe into the organization is finished.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The New York attorney general's office launched an investigation into the foundation after reports from The Washington Post found that charity funds may have been used to benefit Trump himself.
 
"The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Schneiderman, said in a statement to The Hill.
 
Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond when asked for comment. 
 
The New York Times first reported Saturday that Trump planned to shutter his charitable foundation and distribute its assets.
 
Trump is under pressure to contain his various potential conflicts of interest related to his business and charitable dealings ahead of his inauguration Jan. 20.
 
The foundation, which has been the subject of several controversies and investigations, was originally set up to give away the proceeds from Trump's bestselling book, "The Art of the Deal."
 
A Washington Post investigation in June found that Trump had personally given his foundation $2.8 million of the book's proceeds over the past 15 years, and nothing since 2009.
 
The book's co-writer, Tony Schwartz, told CBS News he has received $1.6 million in royalties, per a 50-50 split agreement with Trump.
 
The foundation itself has given more than $13 million to charity since it was founded, but only $4.9 million has come from Trump himself, according to the CBS report.
 
"I am very proud of the money that has been raised for many organizations in need, and I am also very proud of the fact that the Foundation has operated at essentially no cost for decades, with 100% of the money going to charity," Trump said Saturday.
 
"But because I will be devoting so much time and energy to the Presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world, I don’t want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest," he added.
 
Despite widespread calls for Trump to release his tax returns both during the campaign and after the election, Trump has refused to do so, making it all but impossible to calculate the exact amount of his charitable donations.
 
Trump tweeted Friday that his son Eric would also close his own charitable foundation, dedicated to raising money for children with cancer, to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
 
Trump's adult sons distanced themselves Wednesday from a fundraising scheme by the Opening Day Foundation, which offered $500,000 to $1 million packages to go on hunting and fishing trips with them.
 
An auction offering a 45-minute coffee meeting with Trump's daughter Ivanka was similarly canceled last week due to potential conflicts of interest.
 
The Times also reported Saturday that Trump has examined a plan to hire an outside monitor to oversee the Trump Organization as his team works to resolve potential conflicts of interest. 
 
–Harper Neidig contributed
 
Updated: 7:30 p.m.