An analysis of conflicts of interest presented by President Donald Trump since he took office two years ago revealed more than 1,400 issues, according to government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) — a situation the group called “nothing short of an ethical catastrophe.”
During President Trump’s second year in office, CREW recorded more than 900 interactions between the government, those trying to influence it, and the Trump Organization, each resulting in a conflict of interest for President Trump. Those instances bring the total number of known conflicts of interest involving the Trump Organization to more than 1,400, two years into the Trump administration. CREW identified these conflicts by reviewing news reports, public documents, newsletters, and social media, including a Twitter account that tracks who’s going to Trump’s properties.
What has CREW found?
President Trump has tried to use the presidency to enrich himself by promoting his businesses as extensions of his administration. That includes conducting government business at them, praising them in his official capacity, and even going so far as to offer exclusive perks to members of his clubs including access to government leaders, influence on government business, and in some cases, appointments to government positions.
Further, and CREW notes perhaps most concerning, Trump’s political allies are using these arrangements to patronize his businesses and lavish upon them “political cash”. The president’s properties also benefit financially from taxpayer money spent to cover various aspects of his and other officials’ visits, including both state and federal funds.
CREW listed several key findings from its analysis:
• CREW has identified 12 foreign governments that have made payments to Trump properties during his first two years in office, each of which is likely a violation of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause. At least three foreign countries held events at Trump properties during his second year in office, and two of them did so after having held similar events elsewhere in previous years.
• Instead of pushing back on President Trump’s refusal to divest from his business, allies in Congress have embraced the arrangement. 53 U.S. senators and representatives made more than 90 visits to Trump properties during his second year in office, up from 47 visits by 36 members the prior year, and similarly, at least 33 state-level government officials visited Trump properties, likely resulting in taxpayer funds going into Trump’s coffers.
• More than 150 political committees, including campaigns and party committees, have spent nearly $5 million at Trump businesses since he became president. In Trump’s second year in office, CREW tracked 33 political events held at Trump properties—13 of which Trump himself attended, meeting and speaking with wealthy donors.
• Special interests held at least 20 events at Trump properties during the president’s second year in office. Since Trump took office, at least 13 special interest groups have lobbied the White House, some for the first time, around the same time they patronized a Trump property, suggesting that making large payments to Trump’s businesses is viewed as a way to stay in his administration’s good graces.
• Over the past year, President Trump made 118 visits to properties he still profits from in office, bringing his two-year total to 281 visits. CREW also identified 119 federal officials and employees who visited Trump properties over the past year, up from 70 the prior year.
• In addition to making frequent visits to his properties, President Trump and other White House staff have promoted Trump businesses on at least 87 occasions. Trump himself mentioned or referred to his company 68 times during his second year in office, more than double the 33 times he did so the prior year.
• Paying members at Trump’s resorts and clubs have received benefits beyond getting occasional face time with the President. Four Mar-a-Lago members have been considered for ambassadorships since his election, and three other members—with no federal government experience—acted as unelected, non-Senate-confirmed shadow officials in Trump’s Veterans Administration.