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VERIFY: President Trump has small financial stakes with hydroxychloroquine, but he doesn’t control them

Viral claims link the president’s vocal support of testing the drug against COVID-19 with possible financial incentives. The reality is less simple.

WASHINGTON —

A VERIFY viewer emailed the team the question: “Does Donald Trump own a stake in a company that produces the anti-malaria/lupus drug?”

This is actually a claim being passed around social media. It was most prominently featured in a New York Times article earlier this week on April 6.

The article links President Trump to a specific manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine,. However, it’s important to note that the article does not state or imply that Trump is acting because of a financial interest.

“Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine,” the article reads.

RELATED: VERIFY: Fact vs. Fiction of chloroquine, Malaria drug claimed to help treat COVID- 19

THE QUESTION:

Does Trump have financial ties to Sanofi or other pharmaceutical companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine?

THE ANSWER:

Yes, President Trump does have some shares in multiple pharmaceutical companies that produce hydroxychloroquine, but the investments are part of mutual funds that are, in turn, part of family trusts.

Trump, himself, does not have direct control over these trusts.

To put it simply: It's true that Trump makes some income from companies producing hydroxychloroquine, but that income is a small part of a family trust that he doesn’t make decisions for.

RELATED: FDA authorizes emergency use of anti-malarial drugs touted by Trump on COVID-19 patients

WHAT WE FOUND:

The main source for this information is Trump’s own financial disclosure to the Office of Government Ethics in 2019.

Pages 25-30 detail three “family trust(s)” that Trump receives income from. 

All three trusts have a note that, “J.P. Morgan is the sole Trustee. Donald J. Trump retains an income interest only in the Family Trusts and has no investment decision authority.”

The key part of this is that Trump has no investment authority about how these trusts are used or where they invest their funds.

Within the trusts are multiple mutual funds. 

The IRS defines mutual funds as “a regulated investment company that pools funds of investors allowing them to take advantage of a diversity of investments and professional asset management.”

So basically Trump’s family trusts are made up of dozens of investments each. Some of those investments are mutual funds which are further made up of even more investments. Some of the mutual funds did have shares in Sanofi, the company mentioned in the New York Times article, or other pharmaceutical companies.

For instance, Page 25 of Trump’s 2019 filing lists “Dodge & Cox INTL Stock FD” as one of the assets in “Family Trust 1.”

Credit: Office of Government Ethics

Dodge & Cox is a mutual fund and their filings show that Sanofi makes up 3.3% of their holdings.

So in this case, President Trump gets some income from a family trust that he doesn’t oversee. The family trust is reported to have between $1,001-$15,000 invested with the “DODGE & COX” mutual fund. 

Dodge & Cox, in turn, show that Sanofi makes up about 3.3% of their “holdings.”

BOTTOM LINE:

Per the President’s own filings, we can VERIFY that President Trump does have financial shares in companies that produce hydroxychloroquine, but that sentence alone needs more context to show the full story.

The investments are not direct shares owned or controlled by the president. The link is only made through family trusts that the president does not control and the pharmaceutical companies only make up a small portion of some of the assets within the family trusts.

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