An international crisis didn't stop Trump from hobnobbing with Mar-a-Lago guests "who paid me a lot of money"

Trump's conflicts of interest are apparent even during the first major international crisis of his presidency

Published February 13, 2017 2:50PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Even after confronting the first major international crisis of his presidency, President Donald Trump still found time to schmooze with high-paying guests at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

As Trump dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, a report came in that North Korea had launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile which crashed into the Sea of Japan, according to CNN. Trump and Abe reportedly managed the crisis while in full view of their dining guests. Later that evening Trump and Abe appeared before reporters in front of American and Japanese flags, during which Abe denounced the launch as "absolutely intolerable" and Trump declared that "the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent."

Even as the Pacific crisis unfolded, Trump made a point of visiting a wedding being held at Mar-a-Lago's Grand Ballroom. At one point the president spoke to the guests on a microphone and said of the newlyweds, "They've been members of this club for a long time. They've paid me a fortune."

This wasn't the only moment that evening that illustrated the president's conflict of interest. Trump also announced that he was allowing Abe to stay at Mar-a-Lago for free as a gift to the Japanese Prime Minister, which only served to underscore the inherent problem of having any foreign leader stay at one of his venues.

"Hosting a foreign leader at the president's business resort creates impossible sets of conflicts," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, to the Associated Press. "If the president hadn't offered to pay, the U.S. government would be paying Donald Trump's business for the purpose of hosting the Japanese leader."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has also appeared in Mic, MSN, MSNBC, Yahoo, Quartz, The Good Men Project, The Daily Dot, Alter Net, Raw Story and elsewhere.

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Donald Trump Mar-a-lago Shinzo Abe