Trump to dissolve Trump Foundation to avoid conflict, but NY Attorney General says 'you can't'

Donald Trump
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President-elect Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he would dissolve the charity bearing his name, which has been embroiled in an ongoing controversy over potential conflicts of interest as he prepares to enter the Oval Office.

In a statement, Trump said that the Donald J. Trump Foundation has done "enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children."

The foundation has been part of a wide ranging discussion about Trump's business and personal entanglements, which some experts have cited as being fraught with potential conflicts with his new role as commander in chief. In New York, the Trump Foundation has been under scrutiny, and was ordered in October by NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to stop raising funds.

Indeed, Schneiderman's office released a terse statement on Saturday that cast doubt on Trump's ability to close the charity down, and raised the specter of a legal battle between the two camps.

"The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," the New York Attorney General's office said in statement, giving no further details.

The shuttering of the charity is part of the Trump family's political offensive before the president-elect is inaugurated next month. Left open is the question of how Trump will disentangle himself from his sprawling business empire—something Trump recently stated he would address in a press conference before postponing the event.

Separately, his son Eric also announced last week that he would terminate his own Eric J. Trump Foundation.

With controversy swirling, "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways," the president-elect said in a statement. The real-estate mogul has told his legal team to "take the necessary steps to effectuate the dissolution."

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that the Trump Foundation did not appear on charity registers in numerous states, suggesting it was not legally sanctioned to raise funds as a nonprofit. In his statement, the president-elect appeared to defend the charity's activities.

"I am very proud of the money that has been raised for many organizations in need, and I am also very proud of the fact that the Foundation has operated at essentially no cost for decades, with 100 percent of the money going to charity," Trump said on Saturday.

However, "because I will be devoting so much time and energy to the Presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world, I don't want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest."

The Democratic National Committee criticized Trump's move.

"Trump's announcement today is a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving," DNC spokesman Eric Walker said in the statement.

"Shuttering a charity is no substitute for divesting from his for-profit business and putting the assets in a blind trust — the only way to guarantee separation between the Trump administration and the Trump business," he added.

-NBC News contributed to this article