Just five blocks from the White House, at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, sits a large, garish structure with a familiar name on the side: Trump International Hotel. It’s just one of the many hotels that haven’t scrubbed Donald Trump’s name off the side of the building yet — this one presumably because the name recognition isn’t hurting it just yet since the owner lives a few streets away.
But the interesting thing about being the president and also owning properties is how often the possibility of a conflict of interest comes up. Surely, as the leader of a country, you’re not allowed to profit off your own constituents’ tax dollars, right?
Already in question is whether the fact that foreign dignitaries and countries spend money at Trump properties is a violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which stipulates that a president may not accept profits from foreign states without the consent of Congress. Part of a bitter legal battle, Trump fought to have multiple suits regarding his violations of the Clause dismissed, but at the end of January, a federal judge seemed receptive to the idea that at least one such case has merit.
But it’s another thing entirely to find out that the president is profiting off the very people he is supposed to be leading.
A President serves his country — he is, in fact, employed by its citizens. That’s why they receive a salary and a retirement. But it is unethical and frankly immoral to leverage their status as president to make money that comes directly from taxpayers — without their consent.
That’s exactly what was uncovered, however, during a Freedom of Information Act discovery during the investigation into Trump’s possible Emoluments violations.
The US General Services Administration is the government program in charge of overseeing travel charge card purchases for employees and agencies of the federal government — the so-called “company credit card,” only it has USA stamped on the front and is paid for by American taxes. Obviously, these cards should only ever be used for official government business, and never in a place where it would directly profit another government employee — that would be a little like selling a scratch-off ticket you know is a winner to the clerk next to you at the gas station.
Unfortunately for Trump, the GSA keeps receipts. They look something like this:
The expenditures were uncovered by a group called Property of the People, whose founder Ryan Shapiro had this to say to CNN:
Regardless of how much he makes on any individual transaction, the President is sending a signal that the White House is open for business. Due to his refusal to divest from his sprawling business empire, Donald Trump has turned the American presidency into a racket.”
How much longer will America let Donald Trump keep making money off his presidency? It’s illegal and only serves to underline the massive hypocrisy in a political party that seeks to hold ONLY Democrats to account, even for imagined offenses, while the leader of their own Republican Party flouts the law and laughs about it.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images