This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: Even the Russia scandal won't deter him

Trump couldn't resist this week the urge to promote his businesses, even when signing the Russian sanctions bill

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 5, 2017 6:30AM (EDT)

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

This latest installment in President Donald Trump's conflicts of interest must open with a quote from the president's statement on the new congressional sanctions against Russia that must be read to be believed.

Trump brags about his business empire even when being owned by his own party

Republicans in the House and Senate joined forces with Democrats to pass a bill making it effectively impossible for Trump to lift the strengthened sanctions against Russia without congressional approval. Not surprisingly, he released a statement condemning their actions. Somewhat more surprisingly (albeit not uncharacteristically), he closed that statement by bragging about his business prowess.

"I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars," Trump wrote. "That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress."

The former director of the Office of Government Ethics says that Trump is at risk of turning America into a "kleptocracy"

In an interview with The Guardian, former ethics director Walter Shaub pointed out that Trump's behaviors "create the appearance of profiting from the presidency, and the appearance here is everything because the demand I’m making is so much more than ‘have a clean heart.’ It’s ‘have a clean heart and act appropriately.'"

The Secret Service no longer has a command post at Trump Tower due to disputes over rent

You'd think that the one occasion when you wouldn't want to act like a greedy landlord is if you're dealing with people assigned to protect your life. That thought apparently never occurred to Trump, whose Secret Service protection abandoned their command center one floor below his Trump Tower apartment in early July. The reason apparently involved the cost of the lease and other similar disputes, and the bottom line is that they are now protecting Trump from the sidewalk rather than inside his own building.

Trump's first campaign manager has started a consulting business that has attracted clients who have an interest in White House policies that could benefit them

Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first campaign manager, has started a consulting business despite also serving as an unofficial White House adviser, according to a report by The New York Times. This is problematic because, despite Lewandowski having a draft contract which requires him to not "engage in any lobbying or advocacy services," businesses that Lewandowski has signed up often have a direct interest in policies that will appear before the White House. For example, one of Lewandowski's new clients is an Ohio-based payday lender that opposes certain financial regulations.

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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