Despite all of this, a key lesson of Trump’s disclosure forms is that they don’t disclose enough. The public still knows very little about how Trump has funded his business and to whom he might be financially beholden. As the forms show, Trump controls a skein of murky financial holdings tucked inside hundreds of shell companies. He can use those shells to insulate his holdings from one another. He also can use them to park loans and debts or steer payments away from prying eyes. (Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for example, used a shell company to pay hush money to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a sexual encounter with Trump.)
If some of Trump’s business problems accelerate then the financial conflicts of interest that have marked his presidency from its inception may become even more significant. Trump has historically put his wallet ahead of other considerations and souring businesses would make him more susceptible to outside financial and political influence than he already is – presenting, of course, a clear national security problem.