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Trump's conflict-of-interest troubles come roaring back

When it comes to Trump's business ventures, Don Trump Jr. recently said he has "zero contact" with his father. Eric Trump said something very different.
Image: YEAR IN FOCUS - NEWS (1 of a set of 85) Republican National Convention: Day Two
Donald Trump Jr. (L), along with Ivanka Trump (C) and Eric Trump (R), in Cleveland, OH July 19.
It's admittedly challenging keeping up with all of Donald Trump's scandals and assorted controversies, but we're occasionally reminded that he maintains ownership of business ventures he refused to divest from. The enterprise, we've been assured, is in the hands of the president's adult sons, Eric and Don Trump Jr.As recently as two weeks ago, Don Trump Jr. insisted that there's no cause for concern, and that the current arrangement is working out well. "I basically have zero contact with [the president] at this point," the younger Trump said at a Republican fundraiser.In a new interview with Forbes, however, it appears his brother has a different perspective. In fact, Eric Trump had all kinds of interesting things to say about his family's controversial business arrangement.

"There is kind of a clear separation of church and state that we maintain, and I am deadly serious about that exercise," he says, echoing previous statements from his father. "I do not talk about the government with him, and he does not talk about the business with us. That's kind of a steadfast pact we made, and it's something that we honor."But less than two minutes later, he concedes that he will continue to update his father on the business while he is in the presidency. "Yeah, on the bottom line, profitability reports and stuff like that, but you know, that's about it." How often will those reports be, every quarter? "Depending, yeah, depending." Could be more, could be less? "Yeah, probably quarterly." One thing is clear: "My father and I are very close," Eric Trump says. "I talk to him a lot. We're pretty inseparable."

This is quite a distance from the "I basically have zero contact" posture his brother took two weeks ago.Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer in the Bush/Cheney administration, told Forbes, in response to Eric Trump's comments, "It just means that a lot of what they say is malarkey because the president isn't distancing himself from the business."Granted, the list of Trump-related controversies isn't short, but let's not forget that the president's conflict-of-interest troubles clearly haven't gone away. On the contrary, if he'll receive quarterly reports from his son about Trump-owned ventures, the problems are poised to grow more acute.