Bobby Burchfield, a prominent Washington lawyer who worked with both Bush administrations, will be the company’s ethics adviser. George Sorial, a Trump Organization executive, will be chief compliance counsel.
The appointments are part of President Trump’s plan, announced earlier this month, to isolate himself from his worldwide business empire — which he says will now be run solely by his two sons and another executive. Outside ethics experts say it is not nearly enough because Trump has refused to sell his holdings, or create a true blind trust, and could still profit from his decisions in office.
The Burchfield pick is a nod to the conservative establishment in Washington. He was general counsel for President George H.W. Bush’s 1992 re-election campaign. He is also an Eagle Scout who in 2015 was awarded the organization’s Good Scout Award for lawyer of the year.
Under Trump’s plan, the ethics adviser will have to give written approval for any new Trump Organization deals or transactions that could raise a potential conflict. The business has pledged not to enter into new foreign ventures.
Ethics lawyers are skeptical. Norman Eisen, a Brookings Institution visiting fellow and former ethics lawyer for President Obama, said Trump’s myriad business interests are impossible to police.
“His client has put him in an impossible position,” Eisen said of Burchfield.
Even if Trump had relinquished ownership, he would have needed an independent ethics czar, Eisen said. “But Trump has failed to make that clean break, leaving Mr. Burchfield a mess that not even a former Eagle Scout like him can cope with.”
Sorial, the compliance officer, will monitor potential conflicts from inside the Trump Organization. Sheri Dillon, a Trump lawyer, said earlier this month that the job is meant to make sure the businesses “are operating at the highest levels of integrity and not taking any actions that could be perceived as exploiting the office of the presidency.”
Sorial joined the Trump Organization in 2007, and most recently served as executive vice president and counsel.
Attorney Alex Keoskey, who worked with Sorial at the law firm Decotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole, described him as “the type of person I would want at the helm, with regard to compliance, with regard to general counsel.”
In a statement, both men said they were honored by the appointments. Neither were immediately available for further comment.