In an attempt to understand the myriad of reasons why Donald Trump has gone all-in on pushing hydroxychloroquine as the possible solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, the former spokesperson for the Republican National Committee noted that the president once was the owner of a sketchy vitamin company under the Trump brand.
Writing for the conservative Bulwark, Tim Miller posed the question: "Why is Trump obsessed with hydroxychloroquine?' by noting the president has become one of, if not its biggest, proponents.
Miller first pointed out that there are questions about Trump's possible financial ties to a manufacturer of the drug, by writing, "There are many questions surrounding the White House’s obsession with hydroxychloroquine. Whether someone has a financial incentive for pushing it. (It’s certainly possible, since he has at least some stake.) The extent to which it actually works (Fingers crossed!) Which TV doctor got the president so spun up on it? (Dr. Oz?)"
And while he admits it's unknowable why Trump has embraced this particular drug -- outside of the president's desire for a "aspirational hope" for a quick end to a pandemic that is also crippling the economy -- Miller noted that the president has always been interested in get rich quick schemes.
For example: "Ideal Health."
"Ideal Health was a multi-level-marketing company—that’s the polite term for 'pyramid scheme'—founded in the 1990s that sold personalized vitamin supplements based on the results of a urine test. This pee test supposedly provided 'a scientific window into your personal biochemistry,'" he wrote. "The company hired a network of low- to middle-income salespeople who earned a commission both from vitamin sales and from recruiting other salespeople. Ideal Health would charge these salespeople thousands of dollars up front to get access to marketing materials and other 'network benefits.'"
Pointing out that, like most pyramid schemes, most people who took the plunge lost their money, Miller also notes, "The company had to settle a lawsuit with the FTC over false claims that 'Supreme Greens'—one of their signature products—'cured cancer.'"
Enter New York businessman Donald Trump who purchased Ideal Health in 2009 and rebranded it under “The Trump Network.”
"Under Trump, The Network offered a miracle 'custom essential' multivitamin based on the 'privatest.' They also offered pills for 'silhouette solutions' (a diet program), skin care, low-energy, and of course some 'Snazzle Snaxxs' for the kids," Miller explained. "But Trump’s real value add was as a pitch man. The Trump Network launch came on the heels of the financial meltdown, so he updated the Ideal Health proposition to would-be salespeople, convincing them that if they listened to Trump they would discover the cheat code to breaking out of financial hardship."
Miller adds, "Of course, for people in The Trump Network, the false promises, or misleading snakeoil, or incorrigible, happy-warrior hope—call it what you will—wound up costing them a lot. Those who joined didn’t get to opt-out of the recession the way Trump had promised. Instead they had their hardship extended. More bills they couldn’t afford."
Citing a report from the Washington Post that later reported that Trump Network sales representatives said “they paid thousands of dollars for leadership programs, infomercials, starter kits, and other materials that they never recovered in sales," Miller added, "Offering hope with one hand while grabbing cash with the other was not a one off move for Trump with Ideal Health. It was basically his business model.
In 2018 the Trump family was hit with a RICO lawsuit that laid out a pattern of scams where Donald Trump “deliberately defrauded” vulnerable people who were convinced to put thousands of dollars they didn’t have into marketing schemes that made Trump millions but returned little to nothing to them."
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