Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE claims he has no conflicts of interest, but his first 50 days as president prove otherwise.
Rejecting precedent and dismissing ethical concerns, Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns and did not divest from his holdings or place his assets in a blind trust. Instead, he left the family business to be managed by his adult children. When announcing this decision, Trump assured the American people that he would separate himself from the business.
Not only do countless examples in the weeks following this announcement show that Trump is unconcerned with fulfilling that promise, it isn’t possible. Never in our history has a president been so entangled with a brand. He cannot “separate” himself – his name is his businesses.
Hardly a week goes by without reports of taxpayer-funded trips by Donald Trump or his family to one of their own properties throughout the world. These stays promote the Trump brand and further enrich the Trump family. Not to mention, there are numerous reports of lobbyists and foreign dignitaries using Trump hotels for events or overnight stays. One could surmise this is to get in the good graces of the U.S. president by staying at one of his hotels, but the effect is to put money in the Trumps’ pockets.
Trump is financially benefiting from the presidency.
The presidency should not be a get-rich-quick scheme. No president or presidential family should be able to exploit the Oval Office to become wealthier.
The emoluments clause of the Constitution expressly forbids the president from accepting payments from foreign governments. What is one to make of an agent of a foreign government staying in any of Donald Trump’s hotels or the many entanglements between the Trump Organization and foreign banks and foreign government regulators? While this constitutional protection may have been enough in the past, we are now in uncharted waters. Additional ethical checks on the office of the presidency are needed.
One step would be to stop Trump from profiting off taxpayer dollars. Donald Trump continues to summon White House staff, U.S. officials, and even foreign leaders to his Palm Beach club Mar-a-Lago – or as he calls it, the “Winter White House.” He is making money as these officials eat food (especially Trump water and steaks), stay overnight, or play rounds of golf at his properties.
That’s why I introduced the No TRUMP Act—the No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency Act. This legislation would prohibit the use of any taxpayer funds to pay for food, lodging, or other expenses at hotels owned or operated by a president or his or her relatives. In the interest of safety, the bill allows the Secret Service to continue guarding the residences of the First Family – Trump Tower in New York and Mar-a-Lago.
We need to make sure there is no personal financial incentive for Donald Trump or any future president and family to stay or hold official meetings or events at certain properties across the United States or abroad. There are several appropriate venues used by presidents-past to hold meetings that do not benefit the Trump Organization. (The actual White House or Camp David come to mind.)
With so many unresolved concerns about White House business conflicts, this is a responsible first step to make sure that the public doesn’t subsidize a president’s private interests.
Rep. Blumenauer represents Oregon’s 3rd District.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.