SEEMINGLY EVERY day, a new report emerges about the corruption that taints the Trump presidency, and has tainted it from the beginning. The president’s refusal to distance himself from his family business results in an endless parade of blatant conflicts of interest.
When President Trump visits his clubs, federal officials and Republicans pay to go where he is, which has brought his private businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue. The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O’Connell and Michelle Ye Hee Lee reported on Thursday: “About one-third of all the political fundraisers or donor meetings that Trump has attended — 23 out of 63 — have taken place at his own properties. . . . GOP fundraisers say they do that, in part, to increase the chances Trump will attend.” Moreover, “the actual amount of money Trump has received as a result of his visits and campaign events is probably much higher than the $1.6 million The Post identified. That’s because most of the records available about government spending date to the first half of 2017 — covering just the first few months of Trump’s presidency so far.”
The investigative outfit ProPublica estimated earlier this month that the payday lending industry spent roughly $1 million holding two conferences at Trump National Doral Miami, after donating heavily to the president’s inaugural committee. As far as ProPublica could ascertain, the payday lenders had never held conferences at any Trump property before 2018. Meanwhile, they have been fighting rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau meant to crack down on the industry’s parasitic practices.
Then there is the foreign money. “Representatives of at least 22 foreign governments appear to have spent money at Trump Organization properties,” NBC News found , noting that the count suggested “a significant foreign cash flow to the American president.” Countries such as Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have hosted events at Trump facilities. Iraq, China, Malaysia and Slovakia have either rented or bought property in Trump buildings. Other countries have upgraded infrastructure in such a way that helped Trump properties within their borders.
The Trump Organization, the president’s private business, has said it donates foreign profits to the U.S. treasury, but how it calculates its numbers is opaque. Moreover, high demand driven in part by foreign patronage no doubt helps keep rates high at Trump International Hotel in Washington. And not every foreigner seeking attention from the Trump administration represents a foreign government. The Post reported this month that Nahro al-Kasnazan, an Iraqi sheikh and aspiring politician, paid tens of thousands of dollars to stay at Trump International for 26 nights last year, as he was urging administration officials to take a tough line on Iran. Former prime ministers of Thailand and a Nigerian presidential candidate have also been guests.
No surprise that Mr. Trump’s most recent financial disclosure forms, released last month, show that the Trump International Hotel produced $41 million in revenue, accounting for almost one-tenth of the Trump Organization’s revenue last year. According to additional financial disclosure reports released this month, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House adviser, made $4 million off the hotel last year.
Courts might eventually conclude that foreign transactions at Mr. Trump’s properties represent illegal emoluments — and judges should expedite their consideration of this question. But as long as the president maintains such close ties to a broad array of businesses, wealthy people seeking favors will see them as a way to siphon money into Mr. Trump’s pocket.