Less Than Two Months Into Trump’s Presidency, There Is Still No End in Sight to His Conflicts of Interest
The problems exist at two levels. First is the clear potential for self-dealing. But benefits also could fall to President Trump through unbidden acts by others, such as foreign governments granting advantages to his overseas properties hoping to win favor with the administration. In fact, China recently approved three dozen Trump-related trademarks in what some experts say was an expedited process. And with Trump as the top executive of the U.S. government, his private business holdings will routinely put underlings in fraught situations. If they roll back a regulation, was it because it needed to be changed or because it might help the boss?
Trump will not resolve these conflicts on his own — he’s shown that he intends to bull ahead, the interests of the nation be damned.
So where are Trump’s conflicts? Pretty much everywhere. Since the inauguration, Trump has spent four weekends at Mar-A-Lago, his private Palm Beach resort that on Jan. 1 — three weeks before Trump’s inauguration — doubled its initiation fee to $200,000. Trump’s backers argued that it was overdue — the fee had been cut from that to $100,000 in the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff fraud scandal, which hit Palm Beach hard. Yet the timing is, at the least, suspect, as though the resort was capitalizing on the desire of the well-heeled to hobnob with the new president.