Congrats, Republicans! Your party has finally started making history again because your dear leader, Donald Trump, is being crowned by ethics investigators as likely the dirtiest politician ever in the history of American politics. Take a goddamn bow! You’ve earned this.
Trump wears this dubious crown specifically due to his brazen use of office to personally enrich himself. Not in the sense of a politician using their title to later charge huge speaking fees or signing multi-million dollar book deals — no, Trump is making himself rich while in office and ethics investigators say it’s “tacky.”
Robert Maguire, an investigator with the Center for Responsive Politics, says:
I’m at a loss.
“This idea that the presidency is something to enrich your private interest to the extent he’s doing, not by going on the speaking tour or getting a big book deal after he leaves office, but while he’s in office, sort of milking the office for all it’s worth ― it’s tacky.”
So far the president has spent every single weekend at his properties around the U.S. at cost to the taxpayer and at profit to himself. In just seven weekends, Trump has visited the “Winter White House” in Mar-a-Lago five times and has visited his Washington D.C. hotel and held lunch at one of his properties on the Potomac River across from the White House. These aren’t Trump’s personal places of residence, they are for-profit properties and the federal government (ur tax dollars) pays for these trips straight to Trump’s wallet.
Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, says:
He should not use his official position to promote his businesses. That doesn’t make him a good businessman. That makes him a bad president.
Here is a broken down list that makes Trump and Co. deserving of this scandalous crown:
- Trump did not put his businesses into a blind trust, instead, he put his businesses in the care of his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. He knows what assets he holds and can self-deal.
- Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, will be the beneficiary of a sizable reduction of liability in a nine-figure loan with a Chinese firm on a Manhattan high-rise. Kushner is Trump’s informal foreign policy negotiator. This reeks of pay-to-play.
- Ivanka Trump had her businesses promoted by Kellyanne Conway on a major news network after the president himself also took to Twitter both on his personal account and the official POTUS account to attack Nordstrom’s for dropping Ivanka’s brand.
- Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago which, if the US covered the cost of Shinzo’s stay would be considered a gift to a foreign government which would be unethical, or if Japan paid for the stay, would be considered receiving a gift from a foreign government, which would be illegal under the Emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.
- The fees for a Mar-a-Lago membership doubled from $100,000 to $200,000 since Trump won the election. Members can expect to be in the vicinity of the president almost every single weekend. During the campaign, Trump smeared his opponents for taking money from special interests, but this could also be a way for special interests to pay and reach Trump.
- Before the inauguration, Trump’s sons proposed a fundraiser, in which donors could pay $100,000 to hold a private audience with Trump. The fundraiser ultimately did not happen, but they tried.
- The Kuwait Embassy was persuaded to hold their annual event National Day at the Trump Washington D.C. Old Post Office hotel rather than the usual location at the Four Seasons. Lawyers argue that while Trump has resigned his position from that hotel, he still has interests in it since his business was not placed in a blind trust and therefore this could be construed as a gift from a foreign government.
- During the campaign, Trump frequently held campaign events, fundraisers and rallies at his properties. This funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign cash straight to Trump’s wallet. Typically candidates with businesses take a loss by hosting events at their properties, but Trump charged these events to the max to the campaign.
- The Trump travel ban did not include countries known terrorists have originated from and these countries happen to host Trump businesses.
It’s not difficult to imagine if a country were to, say, give Trump’s sons and by default Trump’s business a favorable deal, that Trump could turn around and negotiate favorable foreign policy with that country in a sick sort of mutual backscratching to levels previously unseen in administrations past.
I just want you to close your eyes and imagine the level of outrage Republicans would be experiencing if the tables were turned and this was Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama engaging in severe ethics violations in order to enrich themselves and their direct relatives by exploiting their power as the president. They would be experiencing stroke-inducing levels of outrage, but so far, since this involves their party’s leader — crickets.
And that silence says everything.