Business conflicts are not sexy. They aren’t as sensational as Access Hollywood tapes or the tape that Tom Arnold has from The Apprentice that reportedly shows Trump using the N-word, the C-word, and calling his son “retarded.” Still, tapes won’t bring down a Trump presidency, but business conflicts — should the GOP ever grow a backbone — very well could, so it’s something to keep an eye on.
For instance, last week the Trump family auctioned off a 45-minute meeting over coffee with Ivanka Trump, the proceeds of which were to go to the Eric Trump Foundation, which would then be donated to St. Jude’s Hospital (why does it need to go through the family charity first?). Bids reached nearly $75,000 before the auction was abruptly cancelled, after the Trump family rightfully was taken to task over the unethical conflicts of interest. After all, why would anyone want to pay $75,000 to have coffee with Ivanka Trump unless it was to buy influence with someone who will be in the Trump administration or curry favor with the Prez-elect?
Afterwards, Eric Trump issued a statement, saying that “Today, the only people that lost are the children of St. Jude,” which is a dumb thing to say for a billionaire who could simply donate his own money to his charitable organization to benefit St. Judes. But, then again, the Trump family doesn’t like to contribute to their own charitable foundations, as we have seen in the past.
That gambit, it seems, was just a warm-up.
Now, the Trump sons are offering direct access to Donald Trump in exchange for money. A new Texas nonprofit started a week ago and led by Donald Trump’s grown sons is offering a “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,” a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team,” as well as tickets to other events and “autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer.”
For that access, folks need only pay $1 million, which will go to the Texas nonprofit, which is supposed to go to conservation charities. However, 1) you have the two sons who are running Donald Trump’s business offering access to the President-elect in exchange for money, and 2) they do not specify to what charities the money will go, and as our history with the Trump family has proven, they don’t always follow through on their promises to contribute to charity.
In either respect, this is just an unethical workaround to sell access to the President, something which we will no doubt continue to see over the next four years.
Meanwhile, ThinkProgress is reporting that — under political pressure — Kuwait cancelled a major event at the Four Seasons hotel and switched it to Trump’s D.C. hotel
A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.
Trump hasn’t even taken office yet, and he’s already finding ways to profit off of his position. Most of us understand that Mike Pence is probably going to be running the day-to-day operations of the Presidency. Meanwhile, Trump may spend four years trying to earn a profit from it. He is a businessman, after all. This is what he does.
None of this matters, of course, until Trump’s supporters start to care, and that may not happen until they really see Trump for what he is: A scam artist.