Between 2016 and April 2017, Donald Trump personally earned more than $5 million dollars off a licensing and management deal the Trump Organization has with a Vancouver hotel branded as the Trump International Hotel and Tower. That’s the same hotel where the State Department spent $15,000 to book 19 rooms to ensure the safety of Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Tiffany Trump, and the Trump brothers’ spouses during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in February. And that’s just one of the many hotels the Trump family has visited since Donald Trump took office, this time with their new federally-funded entourage.
The State Department and Trump Organization alike are being very tight lipped about the details of the Vancouver transactions. However, the State Department did indicate 56 nights were booked at the Vancouver hotel, though details of who was staying in the rooms, the rates, and who ultimately footed the bill were redacted. The $15,000 paid doesn’t include about $5,000 in other rooms booked at another nearby hotel not owned by the Trump family. Given President Trump’s troubles in booking a hotel on time for the G20 Summit, perhaps he and his family simply prefer their family accommodations because they can be assured of always having a room for the night. That doesn’t offer much solace, however, to ethics watchdogs concerned about the family’s conflicts of interest.
Unfortunately, there is no clear way to completely separate business and politics — or the presidency from profits. As long as the Secret Service is sworn to protect the immediate members of the the President’s family, as is traditional and wise, and as long as the President’s children are in charge of his business empire, there is a conflict of interest impossible to avoid. Donald Trump Jr. has no government role, but just this week implicated himself in possible dealings with Russia that may have benefited his father’s campaign. Just prior to that revelation, Ivanka Trump sat in for her father at a G20 Summit meeting when he was unavailable, despite the presence of numerous high-ranking government officials who have actually been appointed and fully vetted by the House of Representatives.
Eric Trump is at the helm of the Trump Organization while his father is in office, but there have been numerous instances when he seems to be leveraging his father’s newfound political fortunes to foreign parties interested in doing business with the First Family. In January, for example, the State department spent almost $90,000 on Eric Trump’s trip to Uruguay to promote Trump properties — not including almost $10,000 in hotel rooms for the Secret Service.
That’s not to mention the President’s own frequent visits to the properties he owns, including Mar-a-Lago, his Jupiter Florida golf club, and his dinners at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. This has troubled everyone from Washington outsiders to ethics watchdogs to the outgoing head of the Office of Government Ethics. Walter Schaub Jr. just announced his resignation from the OGE because he felt there was no way for him to effectively do his job in the face of a presidential administration so indifferent to its inherent ethical quandaries.
(Via Washington Post)