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This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: Visits to Vancouver include a Trump stay

The policy implications here span from Afghanistan to domestic housing


Matthew Rozsa
July 15, 2017 10:30AM (UTC)

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump Jr.'s damning emails have been dominating this week's news cycle. But that doesn't mean that President Donald Trump's conflicts of interest should be shuffled to the side. If anything, they need to be highlighted so that the public will remember that there is more muck in the Trump swamp than that which was imported from Russia.

The president may profit from his own housing policies

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Because the president has a 4 percent stake in a Brooklyn affordable housing complex known as Starrett City, he stands to potentially profit from decisions made by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, according to a report by CBS News. This has prompted two Democratic congressmen, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, to write a letter to Trump Jr. and the Trump Organization's chief financial officer saying, "Many real estate companies receive government subsidies to support affordable housing, but unique conflicts exist with regard to Starrett City because the president is on both sides of the negotiation — he oversees the government entity providing taxpayer funds and he pockets some of that money himself."

Trump might outsource the Afghanistan war to a private company

Blackwater wasn't just a private military company. This was the same organization that was accused of threatening to kill a government investigator and saw some of its employees sent to prison for opening fire on unarmed civilians. Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince, a man with notoriously Islamophobic views. Prince is a Trump supporter (because of course he is), but that still doesn't justify allowing him and Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns military contractor DynCorp, to draw up a policy proposal that supports using private contractors to fight in Afghanistan instead of federal troops. Fortunately Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis doesn't seem taken by the idea, but it is being pushed by chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser (and presidential son-in-law) Jared Kushner.

A Trump hotel in Vancouver received $15,000 in taxpayer money

You read that correctly. Thanks to the State Department, taxpayers forked over $15,000 in February to book 19 rooms at Trump's hotel in the Canadian city of Vancouver, according to a report by the Washington Post. The Freedom of Information Act request that revealed this did not provide details as to why the State Department needed to book those rooms, and redacted other information from the invoice.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news 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 appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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