Presidents are supposed to serve the American people, but Trump has made it clear that everyone works for him and he is not to be questioned or investigated or placed under scrutiny. Ever. Even when it comes to Russia, even when it comes to his severe lack of ethics and his Constitutional violations. We know about many of his conflicts of interest, which very well may break the law, and one would expect them to improve as time goes by. However, they’re getting worse, not better.
Historically, presidents do not go into office with the number of business interests Trump has. Previous presidents have placed what interests they do have into blind trusts, which means the president separates himself from them entirely. He has no influence, he gets no information. Trump? Not so much. Sure, his businesses are in a trust, but his sons manage it and they give him updates regularly.
Even if they didn’t, they’re helping their father corrupt the Office of the President with his business. Trump’s sons have pitched an idea for budget hotels called “American Idea,” and have gone so far as to sign letters of intent to build said hotels in economically depressed areas in red states.
That isn’t an “America first,” initiative so much as it’s a way for Trump to expand his brand and boost his popularity among the plebes he otherwise ignores.
(We all have a million dollars that says those hotels will hire foreign workers for cheap, as Mar a Lago in Florida just did.)
Trump’s presence at his golf clubs serves as promotion, and some of them (like Mar a Lago) are raking in the dough from increased membership fees and people willing to pay them in order to say they’ve rubbed shoulders with him and other world leaders. His decision to roll back an environmental policy ensuring clean drinking water directly benefits his golf courses, which means he brings in even more money.
The Trump International Hotel in D.C., situated in the historic Old Post Office building, isn’t supposed to belong to any government officials. The reason Trump can have such an interest in it is supposedly because his business is in a trust, so he technically doesn’t have an interest. Or something. Regardless, the hotel is supposed to be donating profits from foreign officials who stay there to the U.S. Treasury, but Trump said that asking foreign officials to identify themselves as such would “diminish the guest experience.”
So he’s directly profiting from foreign officials who stay there, either to curry favor with him or because they think it’d be rude to stay with a competitor. It’s probably both.
Trump was obviously corrupt before before he was even elected – he’s known this whole time how to milk campaigns and how to milk his office for all its worth, so that when he leaves he’s richer than ever. During his campaign, he made heavy use of his own properties. That might make sense, but the law reveals just how he lined his pockets with campaign donations.
Federal election law requires a campaign to pay fair market value for goods and services bought from a candidate’s own businesses. Most candidates with their own business interests wind up spending one to three percent of their total spending on their businesses. Trump’s spending was above 10 percent. There’s no way that was an accident.
Trump is corrupt. He knows it. We all know it. That’s why he says that the president isn’t subject to ethics laws – he’s trying to build the case that he can do what he wants because he’s the president and we’re not.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images