This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: Business meets government at his inauguration

Donald Trump has now been president for one week — and his conflicts are not going away

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 28, 2017 11:30AM (EST)

 (Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Shutterstock/Salon)
(Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Shutterstock/Salon)

Donald Trump has now completed his first week as president — and his numerous conflicts of interest have not abated in the slightest.

Two of Trump's business partners joined him at his inauguration.

Although President Trump has been repeatedly encouraged to create a total separation between himself and his business empire, he still invited two business partners to join him at his inauguration. These include Hary Tanoesoedibjo, an Indonesian billionaire, and Hussain Sajwani, a wealthy real estate developer from the United Arab Emirates. Tanoesoedibjo has formed his own political party in Indonesia and is rumored to be thinking of running for president there, while Sajwani has admitted that he hopes that, because of his business deals with Trump, "we will benefit from the strength of the brand going forward."

Trump Hotels is undergoing a major expansion.

The CEO of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, announced on Tuesday that the company is going to expand into all of America's 26 major metropolitan areas. The company currently has locations in only five. Lest there be any doubt that he was inspired by the fact that the Trump brand's mascot has just become the most powerful person in the country, Danziger joked when making his announcement that "both brands and any others we create will have a domestic emphasis for the next four or eight years."

Mar-a-Lago is also capitalizing on Trump's presidency.

Perhaps none of Trump's properties are as famous as Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, and this makes it all the more interesting that the organization decided to double its initiation fee from $100,000 to $200,000 as of Jan. 1. As Norm Eisen, a former ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama, told MSNBC, "This type of naked profiteering off of a government office is what I would expect from King Louis XVI or his modern kleptocratic equivalents, not an American president."

A lawsuit is already being filed due to Trump's violation of the emoluments clause.

Speaking of Eisen, he joined Richard Painter, a former ethics counselor for President George W. Bush, as well as Harvard constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe, in a lawsuit against President Trump for his violations of the emoluments clause. Although the plaintiffs will have an uphill battle in terms of demonstrating how they have been personally harmed by Trump's conflicts of interest, based on the many conflicts of interest we've covered here, it seems quite plausible that Trump has already broken this provision, which prohibits presidents from accepting money or comparable gifts from foreign governments.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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