The For-Profit Trump Presidency

Boastful and braggadocious tweets are nothing unusual from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Today, however, he raised the stakes when he took to his Twitter account to explicitly acknowledge that he would use the White House as a platform for profit.

Trump informed his Twitter followers this afternoon that he has “instructed my execs to open Trump U(?)” once the lawsuits against the real estate seminar scheme are resolved. His motivation for this step is far more intriguing. “So much interest in it!” he wrote. “I will be pres.”

Presidents have been wealthy, but never in our memory has a major presidential candidate so explicitly acknowledged his intent to use the White House as a means to personal profit.

Mitt Romney, for example, placed his assets in a blind trust. Questions were raised as to how blind this trust was, but he never suggested using the White House to explicitly increase its value.

Trump’s phony university is not his largest financial conflict of interest. Mother Jones reported this week:

The presumptive GOP nominee also has a tremendous load of debt that includes five loans each over $50 million. (The disclosure form, which presidential candidates must submit, does not compel candidates to reveal the specific amount of any loans that exceed $50 million, and Trump has chosen not to provide details.) Two of those megaloans are held by Deutsche Bank, which is based in Germany but has US subsidiaries. And this prompts a question that no other major American presidential candidate has had to face: What are the implications of the chief executive of the US government being in hock for $100 million (or more) to a foreign entity that has tried to evade laws aimed at curtailing risky financial shenanigans, that was recently caught manipulating markets around the world, and that attempts to influence the US government?

Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out in Politico that “it is almost impossible to separate Donald Trump the presidential candidate from Donald Trump the businessman and huckster —one whose name is synonymous with the many hotels, buildings, golf courses and products, including a university, he has licensed or purchased, a name he seems to value so highly that it alone makes up a huge share of the $10 billion net worth he claims.”

Ornstein highlighted the fact that Trump is taking a break from his presidential campaign to travel to Scotland on the day of the Brexit vote to promote his new golf course there. Normally a presidential candidate would be cautious about visiting a foreign country on the day of such a critical vote, whose result would impact their presidency. (Questions were also raised this week regarding whether or not Trump knew what Brexit is.)

Additionally, Trump had no qualms this week about using the platform of his presidential campaign to attack the PGA for moving the WGC-Cadillac Championship from his Miami golf course to Mexico.

Ornstein notes that “there are accepted norms of behavior along similar, common-sense lines: One should not use one’s public stature to promote private interests. Trump is now shattering all of those norms, mostly to the bemusement, not outrage, of the media.”

Donald Trump has clearly decided that his run for the White House is just another opportunity to promote his real estate and golf interests, along with assorted scam businesses.

Ornstein asks the right question: Will the media let him get away with it?

Tags: Donald Trump