As the nation marks the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Trump’s legislative accomplishments are few aside from a flurry of proclamatory executive orders and he has made little headway on the nativist “America First” agenda he laid out during the campaign.
However, according to Vox.com, Trump’s presidency has been wildly successful at one thing: It has enriched the president’s personal finances to the tune of millions of dollars.
Trump and his family are “making money hand over fist,” wrote Matthew Yglesias. “It’s a spectacle the likes of which we’ve never seen in the United States, and while it may end in disaster for the Trumps someday, for now it shows no real sign of failure.”
Yglesias said that in spite of Trump’s promises to separate himself from his businesses once sworn in as president, Trump has merely handed day-to-day management over to his two adult sons while daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushmer maintain active roles in their own companies while serving as top advisers in the White House.
Multiple reports from nonpartisan agencies show that Trump and his family have unprecedented conflicts of interest, wrote Yglesias:
- Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw reporting for ProPublica have confirmed that the terms of the trust in which the Trump Organization is held allow the president to pull money out of the company at any time.
- Eric Trump says he is giving his father regular updates on the state of the Trump Organization, on a “probably quarterly” timeline but with no specific commitments.
- Donald Trump Jr. is not only a top executive at the Trump Organization but also does surrogate interviews on behalf of the president.
Furthermore, Trump’s expensive weekend trips to his private club in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago provide multiple streams of revenue straight into the president’s pockets. The Secret Service shelled out $35,000 in golf cart rentals so Trump could be adequately protected on the golf course. Agents rooms’ at Mar-a-Lago are paid for in taxpayer dollars, money which directly enriches the president.
“The Secret Service has, similarly, paid $64,000 for “elevator services” in Trump Tower,” Yglesias said. “This is a fairly normal kind of expense for the agency, paying a building money to defray the inconvenience of taking elevators offline so they can be inspected for security purposes. But, again, there is nothing normal about the president personally profiting from the security procedure.”
He continued, “There is something grating about this, especially from a president who is making a big show of donating his salary to charity. Trump is directly pocketing what could easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in direct payments from the Treasury, while simultaneously claiming to be serving for free. What’s more troubling, however, is indirect financial entanglements into which we have little real visibility.”
The essay went on to enumerate multiple business angles that Trump’s family members are working, including Ivanka’s Chinese copyrights for her clothing brand and the family’s business interests in the Persian Gulf.
Most troubling of all, Yglesias said, Trump may very well get away with it. Thanks to Republican gerrymandering of districts nationwide, Democrats could score overwhelming and unprecedented victories in 2018 and still only have the slimmest of majorities in the House of Representatives, meaning that efforts to bring the president to heel and exercise real oversight would remain an uphill battle.
“After that, who knows. Most presidents are reelected,” he wrote. “Congressional Republicans have made it clear that there will be no investigations into any potential scandals as long as they run the show. Perhaps there will be a recession in 2020 or Trump will get us embroiled in a war that causes a large number of American casualties. But one hopes he won’t.”