Trump keeps saying that he is doing everything necessary to separate his presidency from his businesses, but again and again, he and his family are caught promoting doing the opposite. Here are just some examples of all the ways that the Trumps are using the increased media coverage of them to promote themselves and their businesses.
1. Trump taking LITERALLY every chance he gets to promote his hotels and towers
Trump seems to feel the need to constantly take pictures in, have events in and tweet about his many buildings and hotels. It has gotten to a point where it is frankly ridiculous, and every time he does it, he is actively promoting his own businesses. Many people in the U.S. and outside of it, like myself, hadn’t heard about his Mar-a-largo resort before his campaign and presidency, however, because of his constant mentioning of it, more people know about it that before.
1.1 Here is an example in which he mentions his own hotel by name and consequently promotes it to his millions of Twitter followers. It wasn’t necessary to tweet where he was writing his speech. Instead, he could just have told everyone that he was writing it. But no, he had to mention it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 18 januari 2017
1.2 Trump held many of his meetings and interviews with cabinet candidates in his New York Trump Tower. Resulting in almost 24/7 footage of his golden Hotel Lobby, as well as countless photos of it in every article discussing the transition. By doing this, he inserted his business into the center of his time as president-elect.
1.4 Trump is going to bring the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to his Mar-a-Lago resort and golf course as a gift to the P.M. The last time the prime minister came to the U.S., Trump held a meeting with him in his New York Trump Tower, where Prime Minister Abe also got meet Trump’s daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, before he had any official role in the Trump transition, intertwining his family, his business, and his presidency.
2. Trump refusing to actually separate himself from his business.
We still don’t even know what his business deals are since he refuses to release his tax records.
Trump claims that he will avoid conflicts of interest by handing over his business to his sons. Besides the obvious possibility of him still discussing the business behind closed doors, there is a problem with the nature of Trump’s business, that problem being so clearly and closely connected to his name: Trump. Trump makes money by letting hotels and building use his name as a way of to create recognition and publicity for the hotel. Because of this, anything that increases the recognition and fame of Trump’s name, like for example becoming president of one the most powerful nations on the planet, has the possibility of increasing the Trump brand’s value. Hence, it could make him money later down the road when he isn’t president anymore.
It is also easy for Trump to keep track of how the Trump brand is doing since it’s so public and because he knows where they have investments. So he really doesn’t need to be in all the meetings to know when his family is making money or not.
Instead of putting his business in a blind trust, which requires selling all assets and turning them into stocks that an outside person has control over, he handed over his business to his sons, which isn’t really much of a separation at all, but you know he promised that he wouldn’t talk to them about business so that’s all solved, right? Well, experts don’t think so and because it is practically impossible to know what he is discussing with his sons behind closed doors, this whole “solution” doesn’t solve that much. He can also reclaim the business in eight years and he’s aware of this, and this makes it very easy for him to make decisions based on the business dealings that he has or sees the potential for and to use the information that he learns of as president to aid in business in the future.
Since Trump hasn’t separated himself from his business in a way that satisfies ethics lawyers and experts, all his business holdings have a possibility of affecting his decisions now and in the future.
There were a lot of concerns raised about foreign leaders and lobbying groups booking events in Trump’s hotels last year. People were nervous that they were doing this as a way to get on good terms with him, and in a way to bribe him. The proposed solution for this from the part of Trump is that he will donate all the money from foreign governments who stay in his hotel to the treasury, but is that really enough?
3. Ivanka Trump promoting her clothing and jewelry brand, with the help of Donald Trump
Last year, Ivanka appeared on the show “60 minutes” where she also wore one of her own bracelets. Which in itself isn’t that bad, but what is, is that several journalists received “style alert” emails after the interview that promoted the bracelet that she wore in the interview and pointed out that you could buy it on her website. Quite clearly aiming to promote her own jewelry line.
More recently, Donald Trump tweeted at Nordstrom, calling them out for removing Ivanka’s clothing line from their stores. He directly tried using his Twitter, presidency and his huge platform to pressure them into continuing working with her. This is just unbelievable behavior coming from the president of the United States, but honestly, completely believable behavior when it comes to Donald Trump.
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 8 februari 2017
4. Melania Trump suing a magazine for hurting her prospects to use her position as First Lady to make money
Melania Trump is suing the British Tabloid Newspaper The Daily Mail because their negative coverage of her is hindering her from making millions of dollars. Specifically, their story about Melania’s modeling agency from the 1980s also functioning as an escort service, which Melania claims harms her brand so much that she is losing out on making millions of dollars. She now wants The Daily Mail to pay her 150 million dollars in damages.
If she wasn’t planning on using the presidency to make money, why is she so mad at someone because they potentially made doing just that harder?
Melania says the role of First Lady, which makes her one of the most photographed women in the world, could have given her the opportunity to earn millions of dollars. The Daily Mail’s negative coverage of her is unfairly hindering her from doing just that. Which proves that she was planning on making money from brand deals during her time as first lady since she is suing a magazine for potentially hurting her chances of doing that. She is using her position to try and win a lawsuit that would give her 150 million dollars.
Extra! Kellyanne Conway tells people to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff”
Kellyanne Conway was on one of her usual television appearances where she attempts to defend something that Trump has tweeted or said. While doing this, she herself said something very controversial and something that could potentially be a violation of ethics rules. When asked about Trump’s tweet about Nordstrom she, instead of saying that is was wrong for him to use his power as president to attack a private business, she urged people to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Also saying “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.” The White House says that they have counseled Conway about her actions, but haven’t gone much further into it than that.
Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee has said that Conway’s remarks were “wrong, wrong, wrong, and there’s no excuse for it.” Although, she isn’t actually part of the family, but given her close ties to the Trump administration and the Trump family, I felt the need to include her. It illustrates the general issue that Trump and the people around him have with following ethics rules around their businesses.