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Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

At a press conference before he took office, then-President-elect Donald Trump said he had signed paperwork “turning over complete and total control” of his business empire to his sons. His lawyer said the more than 400 businesses would be placed in a trust by Inauguration Day.

Now, nearly 100 days later, he’s nearly fulfilled this promise.

President Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, are closing in on removing their names from the one business where they are still listed as managers on state filings.

That business is the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo tower in lower Manhattan. The company only filed an application in March to remove Trump and Ivanka as managers listed on state liquor licenses. The application is still pending New York’s approval.

New York requires companies to register management changes within 10 days. Bill Crowley, a spokesman for the New York State Liquor Authority, said the two-month delay in filing is a violation, but a “common error made by corporations that does not usually result in prosecution” provided state officials receive new documentation “within a reasonable amount of time.”

The White House referred all questions about Trump SoHo to the Trump Organization. In a statement, the Trump Organization said “all of the necessary paperwork to remove President Trump from the licenses associated with his businesses was validly filed with the appropriate agencies months ago. Unfortunately, the approval process does not always happen overnight.”

We first revealed Trump’s failure to transfer control of his businesses on Inauguration Day. Following our story, Trump did start filing the necessary paperwork with states. (Here are all of those filings.)

Former White House ethics attorneys, both Republican and Democrat, have said even Trump’s completed transfer of management duties is far from enough. They say that the president needs to either sell his companies or put them in a blind trust run by an outsider.

“It really doesn’t matter if he’s listed on these documents or not. It’s all part of his efforts to distance himself, but he hasn’t sold anything,” said Richard M. Painter, a former White House ethics counsel under President George W. Bush and a critic of Trump’s trust arrangement. “From an ethics standpoint, it’s all about ownership and he’s not willing to part with anything.”

The Trump SoHo, which is right next to ProPublica’s offices, has wrestled with lawsuits and financial troubles ever since Trump announced plans to build it in the 2006 season finale of his reality TV show, “The Apprentice.”

The project opened shortly before the financial crisis, leading to sluggish sales. One of Trump’s partners in the deal, Felix Sater of the Bayrock Group, was a convicted felon and later a confidential informant who had been imprisoned for stabbing a man in a bar fight. In 2010, Bayrock, another partner, the Sapir Organization and the Trump Organization settled a fraud lawsuit in which condo buyers claimed the sponsors inflated condo sales numbers.

Under Sater and the Sapir Organization (whose founder, Tamir Sapir, died in 2014), the project went into foreclosure. The Los Angeles-based CIM Group then bought a controlling stake.

Trump is no longer a part owner of the condo tower. But the owners still contract with the Trump Organization to manage and market the property. Trump gets 5.75 percent of Trump SoHo’s annually operating revenues for that work.

In 2015, according to the federal financial disclosure reports, Trump made $3 million off of the deal.

Five CIM representatives are currently also listed on the liquor license as principals along with President Trump, Donald Jr. and Ivanka.

Elisabeth Gawthorp contributed to this report.

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Sen. David Perdue

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) pulled out of his final debate against Democrat Jon Ossoff on Thursday —because he'd rather attend a Donald Trump campaign rally.

The Nov. 1 Senate debate was planned months ago, but Perdue's campaign said he could not participate as promised because he has been too busy doing his job.

"Senator Perdue will not be participating in the WSB-TV debate but will instead join the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, for a huge Get-Out-The-Vote rally in Northwest Georgia. For 8 of the last 14 days of this campaign, Senator Perdue went back to Washington to work for much needed COVID relief," his spokesperson John Burke said in a statement, referencing a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to pass Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) "skinny" $500 billion proposal.

"To make up for the lost time, Senator Perdue has over 20 campaign stops planned for the closing days of this race, and he is excited to welcome and join President Trump in Georgia before November 3rd to campaign for both of their re-election efforts," Burke added.

WSB-TV noted on Thursday that it offered Perdue's campaign other time slots to accommodate the Trump rally, but the overture was rebuffed.

Ossoff's campaign blasted Perdue's "cowardly withdrawal," saying in a statement that the move "says it all: David Perdue feels entitled to his office, and he'll do anything to avoid accountability for his blatant corruption and his total failure during this unprecedented health crisis."

The incumbent's decision to break his promise to debate came one day after a video of Jon Ossoff criticizing Perdue's anti-Obamacare record at a Wednesday debate went viral. As of Friday morning, a 72-second clip of Ossoff has been viewed more than 12 million times.

Perdue responded to that attack by making the odd claim that he repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — which would take insurance away from hundreds of thousands of his constituents — because he believed doing so would cover more people.

"I voted against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, because it was taking insurance away from millions of Georgians. Today almost 18 percent of Georgians don't have any health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act," he falsely claimed.

This is not the first time Perdue has put Trump ahead of the interests of Georgians. According to FiveThirtyEight, he has voted with Trump about 95 percent of the time, including backing his right-wing Supreme Court nominees, his tax cuts for large corporations and the very wealthy, and his repeated attempts to take money from military families to pay for a massive Southern border wall.

Medical experts and data analyses have suggested Trump's rallies have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus. Trump has refused to adhere to social distancing rules or to require mask usage at the events and the mass gatherings have frequently been immediately followed by case spikes in the communities where he holds them.

One poll this week found that voters across the country said they are less likely to vote for Trump because of his "large, in-person campaign rallies where wearing a mask is not required of attendees."

The race between Ossoff and Perdue is considered a "toss-up" by election experts, and polls show it as virtual tied.

If no candidate gets a majority on Tuesday, the top two finishers will face off in a January runoff.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.