A government watchdog group estimates that President Trump had more than 1,400 conflicts of interests during his first two years in office.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report Thursday claiming that the president tried to promote his businesses as extensions of his presidency and administration.
During Trump's second year in office, CREW reported more than 900 interactions between the Trump administration and the Trump Organization.
Trump made 118 visits to Trump properties that he still profits from during his second year in office and mentioned or referred to his company 68 times, according to the report.
At least 119 federal officials, 53 members of Congress and 33 state officials also visited Trump properties during 2018.
More than 150 political committees, campaigns and party committees spent an estimated $5 million at Trump businesses since his inauguration in January 2017, according to CREW.
CREW identified 12 foreign governments that made payments to Trump properties during his first two years in office, including three foreign entities which held events in 2018.
"To be clear, this amounts to the president of the United States receiving a direct and significant financial benefit from special interests, foreign and domestic, that have chosen to spend money on events at his properties to curry favor with his administration," CREW states in the report.
Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit from the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The case, which is making its way through the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, alleges that Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by receiving payments from foreign and domestic governments through the hotel - which is blocks from the White House.
The Hill has reached out to the White House and Trump Organization for comment about the CREW report.
Trump has faced constant scrutiny about his business ties since the early days of his presidential campaign.
The president announced before he took office that he would not sell his businesses upon entering the White House, instead handing control over to his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
"It is hard to imagine that the President of the United States could rack up a staggering 1,400 conflicts of interest, yet here we are," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. "Not only has President Trump still refused to divest from his businesses, he seems to have doubled down by reinforcing the idea that the Trump Organization is an extension of the Trump Administration."
"This report shows that as special interests, foreign governments and political allies continue to pour money into Trump's coffers, the American public is left in the dark about whether presidential decisions and policy are being made in the best interest of the country or in the best interest of the president's own bottom line," Bookbinder said.
You should be in the supreme court. You would fit in with 3 of the judges. They don't know the constitution either.
Once again your doing what your best at. Lieing.
Your reading comprehension. Is at a 1st grade level.
Your posting of my belief of that s c decision wasent even close.
Why anyone would post to a lier like you is just beyond me.
In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies.
What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.
Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.
The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.
Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.
“The Defense Department has not produced a single document in this investigation,” said a senior Democratic aide on the oversight panel. “The committee will be forced to consider alternative steps if the Pentagon does not begin complying voluntarily in the coming days.”
The Pentagon, Air Force and White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.
But on this particular trip, the plane landed in Glasgow — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.
Had the crew needed to make a stop in the U.K., Lakenheath Air Base is situated nearby in England. The layover might have been cheaper, too: the military gets billed at a higher rate for fuel at commercial airports.
One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.
The revelation that an Air Force mission may have helped line the president’s pockets comes days after Vice President Mike Pence was pressed about his decision to stay at Trump’s property in Doonbeg, Ireland, despite its location hundreds of miles away from his meetings in Dublin. The Oversight Committee is also investigating Pence’s stay at the resort.
Accusations that Trump’s properties are unfairly profiting off of his administration have dogged the president since entering office. Ethics officials and lawmakers have raised concerns about foreign officials staying at Trump hotels, and noted that Trump supporters and industry groups regularly throw bashes at Trump-owned locations. Trump is also considering hosting next year’s Group of Seven gathering of world leaders at his Doral resort in Florida, a potential financial boon for the property, and has previously stayed at the Turnberry property.
But the potential involvement of the military takes the issue to a different level.
A senior Air Force official who was previously stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska — where the C-17 crew was based — said choosing to refuel in Glasgow and stay at a posh property a half hour away would be unusual for such a mission. Typically, the official said, air crews stay on a military base while in transit or at nearby lodgings “unless all the hotels are booked or there is a Scottish sheep festival going on.”
The official, who was not aware of the specific allegations, also said that the mid-level officers or senior enlisted airmen commonly responsible for identifying lodging for the personnel are notoriously frugal and try to stay where their government allowance covers the costs.
“Master sergeants are cheap,” he said.
Several weeks after being alerted to the curious overnight stop, the Oversight Committee wrote a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking for documents related to Defense Department expenditures at Trump Turnberry and the nearby Glasgow Prestwick Airport.
The letter, signed by signed by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), notes that U.S. military expenditures at the airport “appear to have increased substantially since the election.”
Prestwick Airport has long been debt-ridden. The Scottish government bought it in 2013 for £1, but it has continued to lose money in the years since. In June, the government announced its intent to sell the airport, which the panel’s letter described as “integral” to the success of the Turnberry property, 30 miles away.
Because of that, the lawmakers argued that the spending at the airport — in addition to the spending at the Trump property — raises concerns about conflicts of interest and possible violations of the domestic emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from receiving any compensation from the federal government other than his salary. After being elected, Trump chose not to fully divest himself from his business interests, choosing instead to put his holdings in a trust that he can receive money from at any time.
The letter asks the Pentagon for all communications between the Defense and State Departments related to “per diem” allowances in Scotland, as well as “all pre-audit flags related to air crew travel” through the Prestwick Airport and Turnberry resort, “or travel allowances beyond the normal allocations in the Defense Travel System.”
Powerful House Democrats said Friday they need to know how much Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at President Trump’s Irish resort cost taxpayers, signaling they will dig deep into Mr. Trump’s decision to flaunt his personal businesses while serving in the White House.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings sent letters to the White House, the vice president, Secret Service and the Trump Organization seeking details on Mr. Pence’s two-night stay at the Doonbeg resort, which was 180 miles away from scheduled meetings in Dublin.
Mr. Trump insists he didn’t direct Mr. Pence and his team to stay there, though Democrats say the choice is fishy.
“The committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family and his companies,” said Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat.
His letter to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the cost is likely hefty, citing estimates that Mr. Trump’s own Doonbeg stay in June cost $3.6 million.
Also Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler sought information on Mr. Trump’s pitch to hold next year’s Group of Seven meetings at his Doral resort in Miami.
In a letter to presidential counsel and the Secret Service, he said any solicitation to foreign governments could run afoul of constitutional clauses designed to bar undue influence through gifts.
“Potential violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution are of significant interest and grave concern to the committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” Mr. Nadler said in his letter, underlining the broader stakes.
The chairman characterized Mr. Trump’s promotion of Doral as a watershed moment, saying the president appeared to be requiring foreign governments to spend money at his resort to engage in international negotiations.
Mr. Trump called his Miami resort a “natural” during the recent G-7 summit in France, citing its private bungalows, acreage and location near the airport.
House Democrats said the comments kicked off a “troubling pattern” that continued in Ireland, where Mr. Pence portrayed his stay at Mr. Trump’s resort in Doonbeg as a “logical” place for him to trace his family roots and accommodate his large entourage.
His team said Mr. Trump’s decision to send Mr. Pence to Poland for World War II ceremonies forced them to spend two nights in Doonbeg, rather than just one. The switch forced Mr. Pence into an awkward commute by plane from the western coast of Ireland to Dublin on the east coast.
Mr. Pence’s aides initially said Mr. Trump suggested, though never commanded, the vice president to stay at his place.
Later, however, the Pence team released a statement taking full responsibility for the choice.
Either way, Democrats want to know how much it cost taxpayers.
“The White House has not made public how much [the] vice president’s trip cost the American taxpayer — or benefited the Trump Organization — but based on previous investigations by the Government Accountability Office, the bill could be significant,” Mr. Cummings told Mr. Mulvaney.
WASHINGTON — The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts last Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.
That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, disavowing the National Weather Service’s position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew accusations from the scientific community that the National Weather Service, which is part of NOAA, had been bent to political purposes.
NOAA’s statement on Friday is now being examined by the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, and employees have been asked to preserve their files. NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department.
The National Weather Service “must maintain standards of scientific integrity,” the inspector general, Peggy E. Gustafson, wrote in a message to NOAA staff members in which she requested documents related to Friday’s statement. The circumstances, she wrote, “call into question the NWS’s processes, scientific independence, and ability to communicate accurate and timely weather warnings and data to the nation in times of national emergency.”
The Commerce Department disputed the account on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr. “Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian,” the department said in a statement issued by a spokesman.
The spokesman declined to comment on whether Mr. Ross had spoken with the NOAA administrator or ordered the agency to rebut the statement contradicting the president’s assertion about a threat to Alabama.
The Commerce Department’s Office of the Inspector General did not respond to requests for comment late Monday.
The accusations against Mr. Ross are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”
Mr. Trump persisted in saying that Alabama was at risk and a few days later, on Sept. 4, he displayed a NOAA map that appeared to have been altered with a black Sharpie to include Alabama in the area potentially affected by Dorian. (Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.)
Mr. Ross, the commerce secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.
Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode.
The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed to their jobs by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain in their jobs as administrations come and go.
NOAA ultimately issued an unsigned statement last Friday calling the Birmingham office’s statement “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”
A senior administration official who asked not to be identified when discussing internal deliberations said that the Birmingham office had been wrong and that NOAA had simply done the responsible thing and corrected the record.
That official suggested the Twitter post by the Birmingham forecasters had been motivated by a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama. The official provided no evidence to support that conclusion.
Craig N. McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, sent an email to staff members Monday notifying the agency that he was looking into “potential violations” in the agency’s decision to ultimately back Mr. Trump’s statements rather than those of its own scientists. He called the agency’s action “a danger to public health and safety.”
Also on Monday, the National Weather Service director, Louis W. Uccellini, prompted a standing ovation at a weather industry conference in Huntsville, Ala., when he praised the work of the Birmingham office, asked them to stand and said staff members had acted “with one thing in mind, public safety” when they contradicted Mr. Trump’s claim that Alabama was at risk.
Dr. Jacobs is scheduled to address the conference Tuesday morning.
The NOAA episode is the latest example of administration officials moving levers of government to accommodate Mr. Trump’s statements. And few cabinet officials have been as loyal to Mr. Trump as Mr. Ross.
A billionaire investor, former steel magnate and friend and ally of Mr. Trump from the business world before joining the cabinet, Mr. Ross has in the past vigorously sought to advance divisive positions at the Commerce Department in support of policies advocated by Mr. Trump. He fought to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, only to lose in a stinging Supreme Court rebuke. He has also stood by the president on controversial decisions such as imposing tariffs on aluminum exports.
Mr. Trump himself has shown less deference than his predecessors to the traditional boundaries between the political and Civil Service sides of the government. Most notably, he has repeatedly called on the Justice Department to investigate his enemies.
In the NOAA dispute, Mr. Trump has also enlisted his Homeland Security adviser to issue a lengthy statement defending him.
The dispute at NOAA is also one of several instances of the Trump administration taking actions that undermine scientific findings. In the past, administration officials have tried to prevent a State Department official from testifying to Congress on climate-change science, and have tried to make changes to the standards used in government climate-change reports in a way that makes the threat from global warming appear less severe.
Richard Hirn, general counsel for the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said what made the NOAA episode extraordinary, though, was that it was not part of an overarching policy dispute on a contentious topic like climate change. “This is just to cover up an embarrassing mistake the president made,” he said.
Mr. Hirn, who said he has worked with the agency through six administrations, added that, “Never before has anybody tried to politicize the weather in all the administrations I’ve worked with.”
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said that political appointees served at the pleasure of the president and the cabinet secretary and could be fired at will. But, he said, threatening to fire staff members under these circumstances “goes against the norms and traditions that have been important to the government and are important to a functioning democracy.”
Two Democratic lawmakers are calling for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's resignation following a report that he threatened top officials for contradicting President Trump's claims Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama.
Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) each demanded the secretary step down in statements late Monday, saying that Ross's reported threats were "an embarrassing new low."
"Wilbur Ross does not deserve the trust of the American people or a place in the Cabinet and he should be dismissed immediately," Beyer wrote.
"Reporting now suggests that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross put the safety of countless Americans at risk by compromising America's hurricane warning system just to protect the President's ego. If these reports are true, Secretary Ross needs to take responsibility and resign," Tonko wrote.
The calls for resignation follow a New York Times report Monday that said Ross threatened to fire top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) after they countered Trump's statements.
The nation's largest environmental group, The Sierra Club, also called for Ross' ousting Monday.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement that Ross needs to resign to "maintain the dignity of the federal government."
"His actions, on behalf of Donald Trump, threatened to instill panic simply to give cover for Trump," the statement read. "Obviously, this shameless abuse of power could have devastating results now and in the future, demonstrating that Ross is unfit to continue in the cabinet and that he does not care that he is supposed to represent the American public above Trump's fragile ego."
The Constitution says that people in the executive branch have to do what the President orders them to do,
The only thing that I can think of that would be an illegal order from the President would be something that defies the orders of the courts.