Eric Trump: Why he's praising Sean Hannity and won't separate his father from the family business

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"There is no better patriot in the world than Sean Hannity," Eric Trump, President Donald Trump's second son, told Fox News on Tuesday.

"Just a great, great man"

"I mean, he's just a great, great man," Trump said. "And he has strong beliefs. Beliefs are what get America to a great place. Beliefs, on quite frankly, both sides of the aisle."

Trump's defense of Hannity comes on the heels of an embarrassing rebuke of the Fox News talking head by veteran newsman Ted Koppel. In an exchange on CBS's Sunday Morning, Koppel told Hannity he thinks opinion shows like Hannity's are "bad for America" (Hannity's words) because they attract "people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts."

Koppel, who once called Henry Kissinger "the best secretary of state we have had in 20, maybe 30 years," most famously anchored ABC's Nightline from 1980 to 2005.

Ted Koppel (left) prepares for the taping of his last broadcast of 'Nightline.' Sean Hannity of Fox News, right, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Ted Koppel (left) prepares for the taping of his last broadcast of 'Nightline.' Sean Hannity of Fox News, right, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference. Uncredited/AP

Hannity responded to Koppel's reproach with a string of angry tweets, in which he blasted the CBS segment as "edited fake news."

Few were likely surprised by Trump's defense of Hannity. President Donald Trump, known to be an avid fan of Hannity's, gave his first interview as president to the Fox host, and his notorious Twitter tirades often echo (and closely follow) segments on Hannity's show.

Not so blind trust

The middle Trump son's defense of Hannity is not the only news he's made recently.

Earlier this month, Eric Trump told Forbes that he would likely brief his father "quarterly" on the Trump Organization's "bottom line." Under normal circumstances, that would be no big deal, except that, as president, Trump has promised to separate himself from his businesses to avoid conflicts of interest.

Eric Trump appears at the star dedication ceremony for radio personality Elvis Duran on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 2, 2017.
Eric Trump appears at the star dedication ceremony for radio personality Elvis Duran on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 2, 2017. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

To do this, he's said he'll place his businesses in a "blind trust" managed by his sons. As the name suggests, a blind trust is supposed to be blind -- that is, the person whose assets are being managed are not supposed to be involved in any way in their management. The arrangement Eric Trump described is not a blind trust.

“He is breaking down one of the few barriers he claimed to be establishing between him and his businesses, and those barriers themselves were weak to begin with," Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center and a former chief ethics officer at the Federal Election Commission, told Forbes. "But if he is now going to get reports from his son about the businesses, then he really isn’t separate in any real way."