Saturday, March 2, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

When Trump took office, he retained complete ownership of and investment in his businesses, although he at least pretended to be handing off day-to-day management to his elder sons. This was a lie, as story after story about Trump's business-motivated behavior after taking office showed, but not one that was widely believed in the first place. Concerns about Trump being influenced by foreign governments buying his favor through patronage of his business have mostly been eclipsed by fears that Trump was bought long before taking office.

Today, Trump retweeted a Trump Organization ad for a Trump-branded golf course in Scotland, adding the comment that his private ownership of this course furthered his relationship with the United Kingdom.

In other words, Trump as president explicitly tied the country's relationship with one of its closest allies to his ability to make money in that country. The golf resort Trump mentioned is facing local political opposition as it seeks to expand.

Trump is not the first member of his family to do this. China has awarded a number of lucrative copyrights to Trump's daughter Ivanka, far more quickly than is typical, likely as a tactic in their ongoing trade dispute with her father's administration. The family of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was caught effectively selling his influence over Trump to Chinese investors anxious to make sure their visa applications were approved.

The Constitution forbids any member of the U.S. government, including the president, from seeking or accepting any kind of gift or favor from a foreign government. Bribery is one of the few specific "high crimes" mentioned as meriting impeachment.

Why does this matter?

  • It's wrong to solicit graft.
  • The duty of the president is to serve the American people, not to pad his private bank accounts.
  • The United States' relationship with its allies is infinitely more important than Trump's golf resorts' balance sheets.