March 6, 2019
Last weekend, President Trump tweeted promoting his golf course in Scotland: “Very proud of perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world. Also, furthers U.K. relationship!”
While Trump has made a habit of promoting his businesses using his official platforms, this tweet may be his most blatant effort yet to mix his political and personal interests. By retweeting an advertisement from the Trump Organization, and explicitly tying the merits of his business to American foreign policy interests, he showed the extent to which his presidency is conflicted and profit driven.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Trump has promoted his businesses through conversations and visits with foreign leaders. Trump talked up his properties in the United Kingdom not just on Twitter, but reportedly “[i]n conversations with the British prime minister, he has boasted about his properties in the United Kingdom.” In a briefing with Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, Trump reportedly asked “[h]ow about the hotel? … We still have the tallest building on the skyline down there?” Feeley later resigned as ambassador, saying in an op-ed “My values were not his values.”
Holding meetings at Mar-a-Lago and Trump golf courses has also proven to be a convenient way for the president to promote his businesses. He golfed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, and tweeted a picture of them on the course saying that they were “building an even deeper and better relationship.” In official remarks, he promoted Mar-a-Lago as a venue for a working lunch with Abe saying “It’s just a special place. And somehow it makes people feel good, and that’s good for a relationship.” Trump even liked the idea of meeting with Kim Jong Un at Mar-a-Lago, saying “He would probably like that, I would like that too.”
Would Trump like to have a meeting with Kim Jong Un at Mar-a-Lago because he really thinks it would help the relationship between the two countries, or just because it would help his bottom line? Either way, claiming on official platforms that his businesses have the power to advance diplomatic relationships represents a corruption of the presidency into an advertisement for his own brand.