Sunday, October 6, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He made a difficult leadership decision—but not as President of the United States.

When Trump took office, he steadfastly refused to put his assets in a blind trust, or even formally resign from his leadership of the Trump Organization. In theory, he gave day-to-day control over his businesses to his adult sons. But in practice, he's shown a great deal of interest in the minutiae of his private business affairs—which explains why foreign countries seeking to influence him always make sure he knows that they're buying things from him.

Today, the Trump Organization announced it would not host a fringe anti-Muslim group at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's financially struggling Palm Beach luxury resort and the country's de facto winter White House. The leader of "ACT for America," Brigitte Gabriel, is a confidant of Trump's who brags about having a "standing meeting" with Trump. Trump's disgraced former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was a board member of the group, and his embattled Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has spoken to the group. The event scheduled for Mar-a-Lago was apparently a fundraiser aimed at Trump donors.

Few Americans will have a problem with Trump deciding not to host an Islamophobic group. But until a watchdog organization reported on the politically awkward event, Trump had no problem playing host and profiting from his dual role as caterer and political patron.

Why should I care about this?

  • If a president can't rid himself of conflicts of interest with his private businesses, he should quit the presidency.
  • Doing the right thing after you get caught doing the wrong thing isn't the same as being right.