This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: He's not even pretending to divest anymore

Trump hobnobs with a Chinese leader while creating a de facto plug for his Florida resort

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 8, 2017 10:30AM (EDT)

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

President Donald Trump's conflicts of interest manifested themselves in two very notable ways during this week's news cycle.

1. Trump's trust is essentially meaningless

Sean Spicer denounced ProPublica as a "left-wing blog" when it revealed that Trump is now able to withdraw money from his businesses at any time without notifying the public. This reinforces a simple and obvious point: The only certain way to see if and how much Trump is continuing to profit from his businesses would be to release his tax returns.

2. Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort is a perfect ad for his "Winter White House"

The point has been raised before, but it cannot be said enough. It is deeply un-kosher that President Trump keeps arranging for high-profile events to be held at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Turning the business into a "Winter White House" means that, even as Trump discusses crucial questions impacting America's bilateral relationship with China, he will also be effectively plugging his business by keeping its name in the headlines. Trump will also need to be careful that he doesn't allow his comfort with the resort to jeopardize proper diplomatic protocol. As David Wade, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, told Politico, "There’s typically a suspicion among the Chinese delegation that Westerners can use a spontaneous one-on-one walk or pull-aside as a gambit to gain some advantage and veer off script. You have to build trust first. Otherwise American-style spontaneity breaks a lot of crystal glasses instead of breaking the ice."

3. Trump International Hotel gets a glowing public review from a foreign ambassador

Lest you think this is an isolated incident, remember that Trump allegedly pressured the Kuwaiti Embassy to move a party to its D.C. hotel back in December. If nothing else, Trump's unwillingness to divest from his various conflicts of interest has sent a signal that it makes more sense to stay on his good side by cozying up to his businesses.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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China Donald Trump Mar-a-lago Propublica