(Editor’s Note: While we primarily focus on local news, we also are Americans. In this light, we are sharing this report by the non-profit, non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) issued Saturday, Aug. 19, 2019. For the full report, visit here. It tells you all you need to know about the criminal who stole the presidency with aid of our Russian enemies. This fits well with the Washington Post’s findings this week that Trump has told over 12,000 documented lies since January 2017. On the local level, CREW previously named Duncan Hunter the first, father of indicted campaign fraud Duncan Duane Hunter, (R-Vapeville), the most corrupt member of Congress when he was grifting there as king of the earmarks.)
Trump’s 2,000 conflicts of interest (and counting)
UNPRECEDENTED CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
During his run for president, Donald Trump promised that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington by rooting out corruption and wrenching power from lobbyists and special interests. In the two and a half years since he assumed the office of President of the United States, he has done exactly the opposite: placing former lobbyists in positions of power while giving foreign governments and special interests the opportunity to purchase access to his administration by patronizing his businesses. Instead of limiting Washington corruption, President Trump has pushed it into uncharted territory, innovating forms of corruption.
Prior to President Trump, every modern president divested their business interests before entering office. For decades, this norm of presidential conduct has served as an important signal for both Republican and Democratic administrations to show that, as the nation’s most powerful and prominent public servant, the president would not put personal financial interests before the interests of the country. Divestiture also served as an assurance to the public that the president would not open himself up to undue influence from special interests and foreign governments that might use his businesses as a way to curry favor with him and his administration.
President Trump rejected these principles, and as a result, he has created an environment where the actions of his administration, and those trying to influence it, can benefit the globe-spanning real-estate and branding empire that he still profits from.
The conflicts of interest that President Trump created by retaining his business interests are at some level immeasurable. There is no comprehensive financial filing requirement, for example, that the public or Congress can use to effectively identify these contacts and the administration has refused any good-faith efforts to provide the public with useful information, whether White House visitor logs or the president’s tax returns.
But that hasn’t kept CREW from relentlessly tracking what information is available through public sources and compiling it in a database of President Trump’s conflicts of interest. Since he took office two and a half years ago, CREW has used news reports, social media postings, FOIA responses, a newsletter devoted to monitoring his D.C. hotel, and other information to catalogue every identifiable interaction between the Trump Organization and the government and between the Trump Organization and those trying to influence the Trump administration. Each of those results in a conflict of interest, between the public interest and Donald Trump’s personal financial interest.
TRUMP CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BY THE NUMBERS
CREW has now tallied 2,310 conflicts resulting from President Trump’s decision to retain his business interests. Here are some of the most startling numbers from the data:
- The president has visited his properties 362 times at taxpayer expense during his administration, sometimes visiting more than one of them in a single day. In 2019 alone, he has visited his properties 81 times, helping to further establish them as centers of political power. The number of days where President Trump has spent time at a Trump-branded property account for almost a third of the days he’s been president.
- One-hundred eleven officials from 65 foreign governments, including 57 foreign countries, have made 137 visits to a Trump property, raising the question of how much foreign money has been spent at Trump’s properties.
- Additionally, CREW has recorded 630 visits to Trump properties from at least 250 Trump administration officials. This includes high-level White House staff, members of Trump’s cabinet, and individual agency employees. So far this year, CREW has recorded 198 visits by White House officials. Ivanka Trump—who has an ownership interest in the Trump hotel in D.C.—and her husband Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisors, are the most frequent executive branch officials to visit Trump properties, other than the president himself. Jared has made 28 known visits, while Ivanka has made 23.
- Members of Congress have flocked to President Trump’s properties, despite their constitutional oversight responsibility to provide a check on the executive branch as it relates to President Trump’s conflicts of interest. Throughout his two and a half years as president, 90 members of Congress have made 188 visits to a Trump property.
- Forty-seven state officials, including 20 Republican governors, have made 64 visits to Trump properties, sometimes resulting in state taxpayer funds being spent there.
- President Trump has used the presidency to provide free publicity for his properties, which he still profits from as president. Over the course of his presidency, Trump has tweeted about or mentioned one of his properties on 159 occasions, and White House officials have followed suit: Members of Trump’s White House have mentioned a Trump property 65 times, sometimes in the course of their official duties.
- Political groups have hosted 63 events at Trump properties since President Trump took office, selling wealthy donors access to the administration while also enriching the president. Seventeen of these have been for Trump-linked groups, and another six have been hosted by groups linked to Vice President Mike Pence. Trump Victory, the joint fundraising arm of Trump’s 2020 election committee and the RNC, has hosted six events at Trump properties just this year, four of which were attended by the President himself. In all, the RNC and other Republican Party groups have had 28 events at Trump properties.
- Twenty Trump administration officials have attended 38 political events at a Trump property, giving wealthy donors who fund spending at the president’s businesses access to top officials to discuss their pet issues while they enrich President Trump personally.
- Political groups have spent $5.9 million at Trump properties since President Trump took office. So far this year, political groups have spent $1.1 million at Trump properties. In more than a decade prior to his run for president, Trump’s businesses never received more than $100,000 from political groups in a single year.
- The Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. is the top beneficiary of this political spending. In just over two and a half years, the hotel has raked in $2.4 million in traceable political spending.
- Foreign governments and foreign government-linked organizations have hosted 12 events at Trump properties since the president took office. These events have been attended by at least 19 administration officials.
VISITS TO TRUMP PROPERTIES
Since his inauguration in 2017, President Trump has made 362 visits to his properties, sometimes going to more than one in a single day. In all, he’s spent all or part of almost one-third of the days he’s been president at one of his properties. Mar-a-Lago tops the list, with 99 visits—followed by Trump Bedminster (84), Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach (64), and Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia (60).
President Trump’s visits to his properties often appear to be intended to draw attention to his businesses, rather than a simple personal preference for where to stay or play golf. Not only does he enjoy mingling with paying customers—sometimes polling them on policy issues or questions about his White House staff—but he has also repeatedly used his businesses for official meetings and campaign events, bringing people to his properties and blurring the lines between his political career and his personal financial interests.
From meeting with executive branch officials and hosting foreign dignitaries to holding press conferences, the president’s activities at his properties are often official in nature. This affinity for carrying out executive business at his properties transforms his private clubs, resorts and hotels into centers of power, akin to the White House. For example, in June, President Trump made his first visit as president to Trump National Doral in Miami to celebrate the launch of his 2020 reelection campaign—where, in addition to bringing publicity to the resort, Trump raised millions for his political committees.
Last March, Caribbean senior government officials from the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia paid a “working visit” to Mar-a-Lago to discuss China’s “predatory economic practices” and the crisis in Venezuela. In February, President Trump tweeted that he would host China’s top leader Xi Jinping for a summit at Mar-a-Lago to discuss trade between the United States and China. When President Trump announced the resignation of Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon in March, he had reporters meet him at Mar-a-Lago for a news conference that resulted in publicity for the resort.
On three occasions, the president has altered his international travel itinerary to make taxpayer-funded detours to his hotels and golf courses. While on an official trip to Europe in June, President Trump insisted on flying hundreds of miles out of the way after a visit to the U.K. to stay at his Doonbeg golf course in western Ireland, even though he had to fly to France on Thursday morning for a D-Day celebration.
President Trump stayed at Doonbeg on both Wednesday and Thursday night, which he insisted was for “convenience,” despite the fact that it required that he and his staff fly from Ireland to France and back in a day.
In 2017, President Trump made a pit stop at the Trump International Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii on a trip to Asia in 2017. The following summer, he took a break from state visits in Europe to stay at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland.
During his run for president, Trump frequently criticized President Obama for playing too much golf and assured voters that when he was elected, he was “not going to have time” to play golf. Yet, not only has President Trump spent much of his presidency golfing, his golf trips have been almost exclusively to properties he profits from—219 trips in all, most frequently to the Trump National Golf Clubs in Bedminster, N.J., West Palm Beach, Florida, and Potomac Falls, Virginia.
WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS
Over the course of the Trump administration, 250 executive branch officials have made 630 visits to Trump properties. Ivanka Trump, who herself has an ownership interest in the Trump D.C. hotel, and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House employees, have made the most visits of any executive branch officials, according to CREW’s tracking—23 and 28, respectively. In June, Kushner followed the president to Trump National Doral for a 2020 campaign launch event. Jared and Ivanka also spent Christmas together at Mar-a-Lago and returned to the property just over a month later on the weekend of the Super Bowl.
Trump administration officials are especially loyal patrons of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. In total, CREW has recorded 193 officials who have visited this single property. These visits give other hotel patrons—who include lobbyists, corporate executives and foreign officials—an exclusive perk: The chance to mingle with the President and other high-level administration officials. The President’s D.C. hotel offers paying customers access to powerful officials as well as patronage that puts money directly in the President’s pocket. These are valuable commodities that no other luxury hotel in D.C. can offer its clients.
Many of these visits take place en masse, with Trump administration officials flocking to the hotel for an event or party, giving hotel patrons valuable access to many officials at once. Both former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury Tony Sayegh held going away parties at President Trump’s D.C. hotel this year. Sanders’ party brought 35 administration officials to the hotel, including Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, among others.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Presented with the unprecedented conflicts of interest posed by President Trump’s refusal to divest his business interests, Republican members of Congress have refused to hold him accountable. Rather, they seem to have embraced the arrangement by attending and hosting events and making appearances there, giving Trump’s clientele the chance to mingle with powerful people.
At least 90 individual members of Congress have visited Trump properties 188 times. Senator Lindsey Graham’s twelve visits to Trump properties make him the most frequent visitor. Most recently, Graham visited the Trump National Golf Club in the D.C. suburbs, where he golfed with Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), David Perdue, (R-GA), and the president himself. Graham is followed by Rand Paul (10), Kevin McCarthy (10), Mark Meadows (8), and Lee Zeldin (6) for most frequent visits.
If one member of Congress is spotted at the Trump Hotel, there is a strong chance that others are nearby. As with administration officials, members of Congress frequently attend events together or dine with one another at the president’s hotel. For example, earlier this summer, Rand Paul was honored at a gala at the hotel, also featuring Representatives Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Last summer, Representatives Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) attended judge Jeanine Pirro’s book signing at the hotel. In late 2018, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) dined together at BLT Prime, overlooking the hotel lobby.
Republican members’ silence on the matter of Trump’s conflicts of interest is particularly striking given that the Trump business they tend to be spotted at the most, the Trump Hotel, just up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, is leased to the Trump Organization by the United States government, meaning that the legal and ethics questions raised by the arrangement fall squarely within the oversight responsibilities of Congress.
FOREIGN OFFICIALS AND CORPORATE EXECUTIVES
Since President Trump took office, officials from 65 foreign governments, including 57 foreign countries, have visited a Trump property. Altogether, foreign officials account for 137 visits in total, 97 of which have been made to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Many of these visits have come from large events hosted by foreign governments, some of which switched venues to hold annual events at Trump properties after he became president. The embassy of Kuwait had, for example, typically held its annual national day celebration at the Four Seasons prior to President Trump’s election. The last three years, however, it’s held the event at the Trump hotel in D.C. In 2018, the Romanian consulate in Chicago moved its own national day celebration to the Trump hotel in Chicago after hosting it at the Chicago Cultural Center five years in a row.
While events like these are likely to be incredibly costly—and thus raise the likelihood of the president financially benefiting from payments made by foreign entities—neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump administration has released the financial details beyond an annual payment to the Treasury the Trump Organization claims represents profits from foreign government funds.
Turkish officials have made 14 visits to Trump properties, more than any other country. This can partially be credited to two annual conferences on U.S. relations with Turkey that have been held at President Trump’s D.C. hotel. This year, two advisors to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ministers of trade, defense, and treasury all attended the event.
Other events have drawn officials from countries that span continents or regions. In February, the Embassy of Kuwait in D.C. held a Kuwaiti independence day celebration at the Trump Hotel, with officials from all over the Middle East and North Africa in attendance. The 13 foreign officials in attendance included representatives from Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya.
Other officials have patronized Trump businesses around the time they met with President Trump. The Romanian President and Nigerian Vice President both visited the Trump hotel while in D.C. for meetings at the White House, and the Romanian Prime Ministeris known to have stayed there.
Corporate executives with business interests before the Trump administration have also made conspicuously frequent trips to stay at his properties. For example, the day after T-Mobile announced a major merger with Sprint, which needed approval from two agencies in the Trump administration, nine executives from the company checked into President Trump’s D.C. hotel. They made at least 52 reservations at the hotel in the months that followed and paid an additional $195,000 for “meeting space, catering, business center services, audio/visual equipment rental [and] lodging” according to the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, in June, a Sprint executive posted a picture on Instagram with President Trump at his private D.C. golf club saying, “Pretty cool when you play golf and then get a minute to chat with POTUS!”
POLITICAL EVENTS AND SPENDING AT TRUMP PROPERTIES
While Trump’s presidency has had a mixed effect on the Trump Organization’s bottom line, it has unequivocally resulted in an explosion in business from political groups. These groups—aligned with President Trump and Vice President Pence, the campaigns of Republican members of Congress, and corporate PACs—have become some of the Trump Organization’s most frequent and highest spending customers.
Since President Trump was inaugurated, political groups have hosted 63 political events at properties he owns and profits from, according to CREW’s tracking. These include 17 hosted by the president’s own political operation, which includes his campaign, joint fundraising committees that raise money for his campaign, and a super PAC called America First Action that his campaign gave its blessing to, saying that it “is run by allies of the President and is a trusted supporter of President Trump’s policies and agendas.” An additional six are linked to Vice President Pence.
President Trump’s own use of his properties as fundraising venues has sent a message to those in his party that he values the promotion and personal income that result from fundraising events. Similarly, the Republican Party’s decision to hold events at these properties may offer insight into why Trump’s allies in Congress have so far refused to conduct meaningful oversight of these unprecedented conflicts of interest. The RNC and other Republican Party groups have hosted 28 events at Trump properties, and political committees linked to five Republican members of Congress—who have a constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the president, including his potential conflicts of interest and the lease his D.C. hotel holds with the U.S. government—have hosted an event at a Trump property. Political committees linked to 101 Republican members of Congress have spent money at one.
Prior to President Trump’s run for president, his properties were not a major destination for political events. Yet, in the years since, these events and other visits by political groups have exploded, resulting in a windfall for the Trump Organization. President Trump’s businesses have raked in almost $6 million since his inauguration. So far this year, they have been paid $1.1 million by political groups. Before President Trump ran for president, his businesses were never paid more than $100,000 by political groups in any single year, going back at least as far as 2002.
Since President Trump was inaugurated, political groups have spent more than $2.4 million at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., more than at any other property. A CREW report earlier this year found that spending by political groups at the hotel in 2018 accounted for more than three percent of the hotel’s revenue that year, to say nothing of the money wealthy donors spend at the hotel while attending these events.
Having events at Trump properties also seems to afford the political groups who host them access to the president and other Republican officials. President Trump himself has attended 21 political events held at this properties, while Vice President Pence has attended another 11. Altogether, 20 Trump administration officials, including President Trump himself, have attended 38 political events at a Trump property, sometimes with multiple officials at one event, giving wealthy donors who fund spending at the president’s businesses access to top officials to discuss their pet issues while they enrich President Trump personally.
Trump Victory, which raises money for both the Trump campaign and the RNC, has hosted six events at Trump properties just this year. President Trump has attended four of them. According to the committee’s campaign finance reports, it has paid the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort and Washington, D.C. hotel more than $450,000 this year. It has yet to report payments to Trump’s Doral or Bedminster resorts this year, where it’s also held events that likely resulted in more large payments.
BLURRING THE LINE BETWEEN THE WHITE HOUSE AND THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION
Shortly before Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he pledged, in lieu of divesting his assets, to separate his White House from the Trump Organization, and to ban interactions between the two. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, Trump and his administration continue to promote Trump’s businesses in their official capacities. The Trump Organization has regularly referenced the presidency, and Trump has given his paying customers access to, and jobs in, his administration.
The President has already mentioned his properties 55 times this year, and 159 times since becoming president, often straying from the topic at hand to interject references to particular hotels or golf courses into speeches. Other White House officials have followed suit. Former press secretary Sean Spicer mentioned or referred to Trump businesses 14 times, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley promoted them 12 times, and former press secretary Sarah Sanders promoted them six times.
Besides mentioning his businesses, President Trump and officials in his White House often give them lavish praise, sometimes speaking in their official capacities. While addressing the National Association of Realtors meeting in May, President Trump referenced Mar-a-Lago, calling it “a beautiful house.” In July, he called his Bedminster resort “a beautiful place” while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office. Last November, then-spokesperson for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham, who is now White House Press Secretary, referred to the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, IL, as “an iconic building in the skyline of Chicago.” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley regularly posts photos from Trump properties to social media, often showing glamorous locales or lush golf courses. While at Trump Tower in New York City earlier this summer, Gidley posted, “The now iconic golden escalator at the ever iconic Trump Tower. New York, NY. cc: @realdonaldtrump #whereitallstarted”. Gidley has also fawned over Trump resorts in Bedminster, N.J., and Doonbeg, Ireland.
Top Trump administration officials outside of the White House have also joined the chorus of praise for President Trump’s businesses. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called the Trump hotel in D.C. “wonderful” while introducing Ivanka Trump at an official Commerce event in June. And in private remarks to a special interest group at the hotel, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt praised the hotel as “such a nice venue,” while serving as the department’s Deputy Secretary.
It often seems as if all of Trump’s thinking traces back to his businesses. He frequently reaches for a reference to one at unexpected times. While addressing Korean business leaders in Seoul earlier this year, for example, President Trump expressed his appreciation for his hosts by pointing out that “nine of the top ten finishers” at the U.S. Women’s Open, held at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course in 2017, were Korean. When asked by a reporter if he still supported the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, President Trump falsely claimed that he was standing outside of his Turnberry golf course in Scotland the day before the Brexit vote.
President Trump’s properties have also referenced their famous owner, and his government position. A brochure for Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., which has been discontinued, advertised possible visits from the president: “If he is on-site for your big day, he will likely stop in & congratulate the happy couple,” a promise on which President Trump has made good twice this summer alone. Trump Tower Mumbai sent out promotional materials pointing out its affiliation with the “U.S.-based real estate tycoon, celebrity & POTUS Donald Trump.” Mar-a-Lago reportedly sold shirts with a “45” detail on the sleeve, referencing Trump’s presidency. In August 2018, Trump Bedminster retweeted a Fox & Friends video of then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that mentions President Trump. This spring, Trump’s Doonbeg resort tweeted about the president’s visit to the property, including a video of him at the resort. It later deleted the tweets.
President Trump’s friendliness towards his patrons and business connections raises questions about the line between his presidency and the Trump Organization. President Trump has nominated eight current or former members of his clubs to posts in his administration. In addition, Kelly Knight Craft, President Trump’s recently-confirmed nominee to be U.N. representative, and her husband have been “repeat, high-paying customers” of the Trump Hotel D.C. The two were placed on a “VIP Arrivals” list by Trump Hotel staff and identified as “gold-level members of the Trump Card rewards program.”
Others close to the Trump Organization have been offered access to the White House more informally. Last summer, for example, Buzzfeed reported that some members of Trump’s Florida clubs appear to have been invited to tour Air Force One. Last fall, VP of interior design at the Trump Organization, Giavona Pirolo, received an “impromptu tour” of the White House while visiting Washington and staying at Trump’s D.C. hotel.
In 2017, President Trump facilitated a private White House tour for 23 professional golfers who were competing in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, which was held at the Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia. That same year, Phil Ruffin, co-owner of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, visited President Trump in Washington, D.C., on what Mr. Ruffin said was “purely a social call.” He stayed at the White House.
President Trump has also gone so far as to offer jobs in the government to his club members and employees. In 2017, First Lady Melania Trump announced that Timothy Harleth, the former director of rooms at the D.C. hotel, was hired for the position of chief usher at the White House. In 2018, Axios reported that President Trump was privately pushing for his personal pilot, John Dunkin, to be hired as chief of the Federal Aviation Administration. He ultimately decided on another pick, after the position remained open for more than a year and a series of crashes highlighted a lack of leadership at the agency.
President Trump has also empowered members of his private Palm Beach club within the government. A 2018 report from ProPublicashowed that three Mar-a-Lago members, none of whom had any government or military experience, were allowed to steer veterans policies in President Trump’s Department of Veterans Affairs for months.
It’s therefore no surprise that a prospective nominee to the Federal Reserve Board repeatedly patronized the Trump hotel in DC as Trump weighed her nomination. Judy Shelton conducted multiple interviews from the hotel, and even booked a suite there, as reports that she was under consideration swirled. Trump announced his intention to nominate her last month.
Early in Trump’s presidency, the president’s two sons promised not to have any entanglement with their father’s administration. Despite that pledge, Don Jr. in particular seems to have been involved in it. He reportedly “played a key role” in picking former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, then sought to install a personal friend as a liaison to the agency. According to an anonymous official, National Security Council staff were directed by the West Wing to take a meeting with a Texas hedge fund manager because he was connected to Don Jr. Last year, President Trump told the Daily Caller that he had endorsed Foster Friess in the Wyoming Republcian gubernatorial primary at Don Jr.’s behest: “I was asked to do that, by my son Don, and I did it.”
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND BUSINESSES
Examples of President Trump’s international businesses mixing with the presidency are especially problematic because they may implicate U.S. foreign policy. Though some of these properties are not owned by President Trump, they still result in income for the president through branding agreements. There is a danger that foreign governments would seek to ingratiate themselves by doing business with President Trump’s properties, giving them handouts, or considering those close to his business partners for official positions.
Indeed, these are all things that have happened. A construction company which both the South Korean and Saudi Arabian governments have interests in is building a development in Indonesia that includes a Trump-branded resort, and, in Dubai, a Chinese-government owned firm was hired to work on a development that will include a Trump-branded golf course. In Panama, the federal government intervened on an infrastructure project that would help a Trump-branded development there after the company contracted for the work went bankrupt, and foreign governments have approved dozens of trademarks for President Trump.
The president of Indonesia is reportedly considering the daughter of one of President Trump’s business partners for a cabinet-level position, and several of his other foreign business partners have close ties to foreign governments. Donald Trump Jr. visited Indonesia this month to meet with the Trump Organization’s business partners and attend a private event to promote the sale of units in the two Trump-brand luxury resorts currently being built there.
By attending foreign government events at Trump properties, the Trump administration has seemed to condone the patronage the president is receiving from them. Foreign governments and foreign government-linked groups have hosted 12 events at Trump properties since the president took office. These events have been attended by at least 19 administration officials. Earlier this year, the Kuwaiti embassy hosted its National Day at the Trump hotel in Washington, the third year in a row that it’s done so. The president’s repeat customers were rewarded for their loyalty with access to top-level administration officials: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway all attended the event.
Eliminating any doubt that the president has any objection to the appearance issues when foreign officials visit his businesses, President Trump has suggested that next year’s G7 meeting, which will be hosted by the United States, be held at Trump National Doral or another one of his properties. Since then, Doral has become a finalist in the search for a location.
Prior to entering office, President Trump pledged that the Trump Organization would engage in “no new foreign deals” while he served as president. Yet, a “Corporate Update” presentation created by one of President Trump’s international business partners earlier this year raises questions about whether the Trump Organization is adhering to this promise. It included a slide that said an “Aggressive global expansion” of the “Trump International Portfolio” was “underway,” and that, in addition to the Trump Organization’s “Presence in six countries” there were “Numerous projects in the pipeline.”
While that slide may not be accurate as to the Trump Organization’s current activity, in January, Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump told an Argentinian news site that the Trump Organization gets offers for new foreign developments every day and confirmed the Trump Organization plans to consider new international developments when Trump is out of office.
President Trump has visited two of his foreign resorts in Scotland and Ireland as president. His two-night stay at Trump International Golf Links in Ireland earlier this year in particular seemed to double as a business trip. For one, it took him well out of the way of his diplomatic trip. As he arrived at his resort, the president insisted on Marine One flying over the course so he could survey it, according to the resort’s managing director. While in Ireland, Trump discussed his property with an Irish official who represents the county where Doonbeg is located. They “talked about the important role that the resort in Doonbeg plays in local economy,” according to the official. Perhaps most suggestive of the nature of the visit, however, is that it resulted in an enormous boost to the business: Bookings at the golf resort reportedly went up by 30 percent right after the visit.
CREW’s monitoring has identified well over 2,000 conflicts of interest arising from the President’s failure to adhere to the ethics standards of his predecessors in divesting from their private building holdings while in office. That’s an unacceptably high number, but it’s also likely the tip of the iceberg; there are certainly more conflicts than those we are able to identify. President Trump’s conflicts of interest validate entirely CREW’s and others’ concerns about President Trump retaining his financial interests while in office. Not only is the president continuing to profit from his vast business interests while in office, he appears to be using the presidency to try to enrich himself.
The relentless promotion of Trump businesses from the president and members of his administration has sent a message to those seeking political influence that patronizing his businesses is a way to appeal to the president.
The corrupt relationship between the Trump Organization and the White House calls into question President Trump’s decision-making as president. When his personal financial interests diverge from America’s national ones, which does he prioritize? That’s not a question we should have to ask.