March 12, 2020
On March 7, less than two weeks after President Trump returned from an official visit to India, the business he still owns and profits from made an announcement: it would now ship Trump-branded products to India.
This appears to be a clear violation of the Trump family’s pledge of no new foreign business during the Trump presidency, and an invitation for corruption. This decision will allow foreign nationals to funnel money into President Trump’s pocket in a way that is unfortunately both secret and legal. India is joined on the announcement by Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland (which we must note is still technically part of the United Kingdom) and Germany.
The inclusion of India on this list isn’t surprising. India hosts the most Trump-branded properties of any country outside of the US. Indian government officials have made eight visits to Trump properties, the third most of any foreign country. Last year around 100 early buyers of a new Trump-branded property in India were flown to the United States to meet with Donald Trump Jr. at a Trump golf course in the Bronx, NY.
The expansion to Ireland and Scotland comes at a precarious time for the president: the announcement fell on the same day that The Scotsman’s Martyn McLaughlin reported that “an official European Union agency has issued a series of far-reaching decisions which experts believe will impact on the Trump Organisation’s ability to enforce its rights over numerous products and services associated with the Trump brand.” The trademark fight exposed the previously unknown fact that at Trump Turnberry, the Scottish flagship of his international golf empire, the number of visitors booking golf facilities had dropped nearly 37% in his four years of ownership. Membership dropped 14% in that same period. At the Irish Trump Doonbeg, the president has never turned a profit, losing tens of millions of dollars. That fact didn’t stop American taxpayers from footing a $600,000 limo bill for VP Pence to stay at Doonbeg while attending meetings on the other side of the country.
While the timing may be suspect, there is no good timing for the president’s personal business to announce it will be profiting in foreign countries, especially given his company’s previous pledge of no new foreign business. A president inviting foreign corruption is always bad. While it may be business as usual for Trump, that does not mean we should normalize this kind of behavior. The cost to our nation is far too high. Certainly higher than $115 candles and $185 footballs.