In terms of conflicts of interest, his self-interest is co-extensive with those of his family interest, most notably his children. So saying that he has a blind trust and saying to the kids, “Well, have fun, go run these companies,” the only thing it does is to give him the time that he needs to be president of the United States rather than run the company, but doesn't have any benefit in terms of relieving conflicts of interest. The other blind trusts that have been set up by former presidents—President Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, President W. Bush—all had independent trustees. President Obama, he didn't need to set up a blind trust. He did something I actually urge people to do if they’re able to, and put all of his funds into widely diversified funds such as index funds or ETFs. I did that largely with a man much, much richer than Donald Trump who I represented, which is of course Michael Bloomberg.
Venook: Are there any specifics of your arrangement with Bloomberg that you think would be particularly applicable here?
Gross: He removed himself from the functioning of his business. The Bloomberg business did have a business relationship with the city of New York through the leasing of terminals. They were all gifted to the city so there was no business relationship, and he left the running of his business to his lieutenants and took himself out entirely of the day-to-day running, and he was extremely diligent about that. The only involvement he would have, since he was a major owner and remained a major owner, was over some very large decisions, like buying and selling things. The rest of his assets were held in widely diversified funds, like index funds, except for some investments where we did create a blind-like trust, and that again was approved by the conflict-of-interests board. A lot of care and attention was put in to avoid even a suggestion or appearance of conflict with regards to his holdings, which far exceed those of Mr. Trump, although obviously Mr. Trump’s responsibilities will be greater than being mayor of New York.
Venook: It sounds to me like one of the big steps that a lot of previous politicians have taken is to diversify their interests.
Gross: It’s basically been one or the other or a combination of both. It's either put them in blind trusts with an independent trustee, and/or put them in diversified holdings. I don’t know why more people don’t do that, frankly. I don't know why every member of Congress doesn't do it.
Venook: So a blind trust is something with a lot of precedent, but it’s not strictly necessary.
Gross: There’s a lot of precedent, and a lot of rules. But the interesting thing is that, while the rules apply to every individual in the executive branch, the cabinet and undersecretaries on down, they don’t apply to the president or the vice president, the only elected officials, so he can set up whatever kind of trust he wants. He doesn’t have to go to the Office of Government Ethics and say, “Does this meet all your standards?” because there are no rules that apply to him.