After being chosen as Time’s Person of the Year, President-elect Donald Trump went on the Today Show to talk about the choice.
During his interview with Today’s Matt Lauer, Trump was asked why he decided to sell out of all of his stockholdings in June of this year. Trump said that he did not own much stock — the most recent filings from Trump estimated his holdings at $40 million in December 2015 — and that he sold due to his outlook for the market.
“Well I’ve never been a very big person for the stock market frankly,” said Trump. “But, over the years I bought stock and I bought them when they were low and I saw what was going on with interest rates and it seemed like it was very easy to predict what was going to happen.”
Trump also said that part of the reason he sold was due to conflicts of interest that could arise as president.
“I thought I was very much going to be winning,” said Trump in a telephone interview with Lauer. “And I think I would have a tremendous, a real conflict of interest owning all of these different companies.”
Lauer asked why Trump did not disclose the fact that he sold until six months later, despite the fact that critics had raised questions about his business dealings and choice to not release his tax returns.
“I let everybody know, I let everybody know” said Trump. “I was never a big stockholder, but I bought a lot of different stocks and I had a lot of stock before then too and what I did is i sold them. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I’m making deals for this country that maybe will effect one company positively and one company negatively.”
Trump did say in an interview with Fox Business in August that he had sold his stock due to “scary” market conditions, however, he did not officially disclose this holding. Trump has still not provided documentation that he sold his stockholdings.
Since Trump sold, the S&P 500 has increased by over 10% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit all-time highs on Tuesday. Trump, in the interview, took some credit for this, noting that stocks were at an “all-time record” after his election.
Of note, while Trump has sold his stock holdings he still has much of his net worth in other assets such as real estate. These holdings have also brought up conflict of interest concerns among ethics lawyers.
Watch the exchange between Trump and Lauer:
“Why’d you sell all your holdings in June?” –@MLauer