President Donald Trump confirmed multiple reports this weekend when he said that he does, indeed, hope to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is “not for sale”: “Greenland belongs to Greenland.” Which should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s not.
On Monday, Trump sent the following tweet, apparently trying to quell suspicions that the president just regards Greenland as another place to expand his business empire:
I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
One problem with this message, though, is that Eric Trump — the president second eldest son who, along with Donald Trump Jr., is supposedly in charge of the Trump Organization — shared the image approvingly on Instagram about an hour earlier:
View this post on Instagram
(The earliest version of the image I could find came from Jon Gabriel, the editor-in-chief of the conservative Richocet, who appears to have created the meme on Aug. 15.)
Undoubtedly, defenders will claim Eric Trump was simply joking by sharing this image. But the president’s apparent desire to disavow the image suggests two things: that he’s still hopeful he’ll be able to obtain Greenland, and that he thinks spreading the notion that the purchase would further his business interests is detrimental to this effort.
And the “joke” defense doesn’t really work for Eric Trump, because the conflicts of interest inherent in the president’s continued stake in the family business represent a serious and corrupting ethics crisis roiling the government (and the subject of multiple lawsuits.) And the history of American colonialism, which has always been intertwined with economic interests, is likewise nothing that the president’s son should be making light of.
It’s not clear if the president’s tweet was a direct response to his son’s Instagram post. They may, in fact, be unrelated, given that the image the president shared included the text “GREENLAND” on top of the image, which is absent from Eric Trump’s Instagram post. But the president’s tweet nonetheless stands as an (intentional or not) rebuke to his son’s misguided post.