This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: Putts, Putin and politics

Two golf-related items in the news make us wonder how many conflicts Trump can have

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 25, 2017 11:30AM (EST)

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

President Donald Trump and his family have not skimped this week when it comes to massive conflicts of interest. As the president continues to shape American foreign policy, it is particularly instructive to evaluate just what these conflicts are.

Trump's business associates were reportedly involved in a major piece of Trump-Russian discussions.

Because Trump hasn't released his tax returns, we don't know the extent of his business ties to Russia, although reports indicate they're rather substantial. But a recent New York Times report claimed that Trump's longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and business associate Felix H. Sater met with a Ukrainian parliament member shortly before the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The reason? To propose a plan for lifting America's sanctions on Russia by having Ukraine hold a referendum over whether Crimea could be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years. Sure, the plan also called for Russian troops to withdraw from the territory, but given Russia's sketchy history when it comes to election integrity, it's unlikely that that referendum would have been above reproach.

Trump sons open Trump golf course in Dubai.

Trump's immigration ban — the one that excluded countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates — managed to avoid including nations in which Trump has business ventures.

But while the Trump administration is working on excluding people from numerous Middle Eastern countries, his sons — both of whom are helping run Trump's business empire — went to Dubai to open a golf course bearing his name.

Trump golfs with head of Professional Golfers' Association, wants PGA events at Trump courses.

When it came out earlier this week that Trump had golfed with championship golfer Rory McIlroy, critics were quick to point out the president's hypocrisy, given that he had slammed President Barack Obama for his own golfing. Trump's golfing buddies included Pete Bevacqua, the head of the PGA, which has the Senior PGA Championship scheduled for a Trump golf course in May and the PGA Championship set for another Trump golf course in 2022. What could Trump and Bevacqua have discussed during their time on the links?

House Republicans may be willing to help Trump hide any conflicts he may have.

Instead of allowing a Democratic resolution requiring Trump to disclose his ties to Russia and business conflicts of interest to reach the House floor, Congressional Republicans are instead sending it to the House Judiciary Committee to be killed. One could be forgiven for suspecting that — between this and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz's refusal to investigate anything about Trump — they realize that Trump has something unseemly to hide and don't want to hurt their party's political prospects by having it exposed.

That's crazy, though. Right?

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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Donald Trump Golf House Of Representatives Republican Party Russia United Arab Emirates