Donald Trump is hawking himself and his image every moment of the day that he is in sight. He comes from a long line of hucksters, but he went way beyond what is appropriate. The president is using the White House to further his own business interests in stunning ways, but one trumps them all.
The Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton wrote:
‘An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth.’
There are many manners in which Trump blatantly disregarded the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
The largest American branch of the biggest Chinese government’s bank is located on the 20th floor of Trump Tower. It pays Donald Trump’s company $2 million a year in rent, but that is just one violation. Trump has taken corruption right into the Oval Office.
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. made $268,000 from the Saudi government on hotel rooms and catering to those travelers. The Trump Organization pulls in an estimated $175 million from commercial tenants, but it gets worse.
Formerly the U.S. government’s top ethics official, Walter Shaub, resigned in July. He never saw Trump’s rent rolls, and he told Forbes:
‘The public reading the [disclosure] form doesn’t know who is paying the president.”
Trump Organization attorney, Alan Garten, released a statement that read:
‘Following the election, the Trump Organization implemented a rigorous vetting process for all transactions, including leases, which includes a detailed review and approval by our chief compliance officer and outside ethics advisor [sic].’
Forbes exposed one such deal:
‘The Trump Organization is more a collection of deals than an operating business. While Wal-Mart and General Motors rely on millions of customers around the world, the Trump Organization relies on a handful of large entities. That insulates the president’s business from consumer whims–and lagging favorability ratings–while leaving him vulnerable to corporate (or government) interests.’
Yet, maybe one of the worst deviations from the emoluments clause and a blatant disregard of the sanctity of the U.S. presidency occurred last May. The country of Georgia’s prime minister visited the White House. Donald Trump asked him about one of his own old projects in Russia.
‘Honored to welcome Georgia Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili to the @WhiteHouse today with @VP Mike Pence.’
The prime minister responded by tweet:
‘Unprecedented decision by the #US:@POTUS signed bill featuring passage on #Georgia’s occupation for the first time #houseofrepresentatives.’
At a January press conference, Trump’s personal attorney, Alan Garten, said, according to Forbes:
‘No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of President Trump’s presidency.’
All of this could have been avoided, according to Forbes, if 45 would only:
‘Divest his assets and engage in the biggest job in the world with clean hands. Since his company basically consists of assets and management deals, he could have set in motion a liquidation process. His iconic towers would still carry his name. And when he left office, he could surely take that cash hoard to again buy properties or leverage his higher profile to yet more and better licensing deals.’
Shortly after the election, The Los Angeles Times reported that he tweeted:
‘Legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!’
Trump signed a spending bill that included a provision recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “Russian-occupied Georgian territories.” The LA Times wrote about the bill:
‘It states that no appropriated funds may be used to support their “Russian occupation” or to assist the governments of other countries that have recognized the territories’ independence.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Spencer Platt.