CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington—The Trump Organization likely violated the law by displaying the Presidential Seal at one or more of its golf courses, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Department of Justice (DOJ). Federal criminal law prohibits the use of the Presidential Seal to falsely convey government endorsement or approval.
According to reports, the Trump International Golf Club, located “five minutes” from Mar-a-Lago, used the presidential seal on tee markers placed on the ground to show golfers where to tee off. The Trump Organization’s use of the Presidential Seal in support of its commercial endeavors falsely conveys the impression of government sponsorship or approval of its commercial interests and should be investigated to determine if it violates the law.
“Past presidential administrations have vigorously policed unauthorized use of the seal,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “But, as with so many other cases of unprecedented mixing of private business with the presidency in this administration, there has never been a case in which the president’s own business was using the seal to benefit from the presidency.”
Ordinarily, CREW would address these concerns to the White House Counsel’s Office, which historically has policed the improper use of the Presidential Seal. However, as this potential violation involves entities owned by President Trump, CREW asked DOJ’s Criminal Division to investigate whether the Trump Organization’s use and display of the seal violated the law.
“A false impression of government approval or sponsorship is precisely what placement of the Presidential Seal golf tee markers at Trump-branded golf courses provides,” Bookbinder said. “The law applies to everyone, and the Trump Organization should not get a pass just because it is owned by the president.”