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This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: A total eclipse of ethics!

The Secret Service is running out of money, but his treasury secretary's wife can brag about her lavish lifestyle


Matthew Rozsa
August 26, 2017 10:30AM (UTC)

This week has been particularly rich when it comes to conflicts of interest for President Donald Trump. It seems not even the solar eclipse could overshadow the Trump administration's penchant for ethically questionable actions!

An ethics watchdog is scrutinizing why Trump's treasury secretary took his wife to Kentucky and watched the solar eclipse

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There is no proof that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took his wife Louise Linton to Kentucky on a government jet so the two of them could enjoy the solar eclipse together. That said, it is suspicious that he took her there at all (it is not traditional for cabinet secretaries' spouses to join them on official trips), and a report reveals that Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell watched the eclipse from the roof of Fort Knox — a building literally filled with gold. Ironically, the only reason that CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) was tipped off to the possibility that the Mnuchins viewed their Kentucky trip as a lavish vacation at taxpayers' expense is because his wife, Scottish actress Louise Linton, unwisely bragged about it on Instagram.

Trump is stretching Secret Service to the bone

You'd think that a president would want to make sure the men and women assigned to protect him were as comfortable as possible. That thought apparently hasn't occurred to Trump and his family, who have maintained such an exorbitant globetrotting lifestyle that more than 1,000 Secret Service agents have hit their salary and overtime caps for 2017. And, thanks to Congressional rules, the agency has been charged $7,100 for portable toilets when they protected him during his "working vacation" for 18 days at his Bedminster Golf Club. According to Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, a current congressional proposal to raise the salary-plus-overtime cap from $160,000 annually to $187,000 annually won't fully rectify the problem, as it would still leave more than 130 agents without full compensation for hundreds of hours of work.

Trump is cleaning up among his fellow Republicans

You can make a lot of money when you're the president and party members feel compelled to spend money on your businesses. At least, that's the conclusion that one can reasonably draw from the news that Trump's various properties have earned $1.3 million from Republican entities in the first four months of 2017. It's reasonable to assume that that number is even higher now.

Carl Icahn resigns as special advisor on regulation because of a potential conflict of interest

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Because of his investment in the refiner, CVR Energy, it stood to reason that billionaire Carl Icahn should have steered clear of offering Trump any advice pertaining to energy regulation. Yet, as CNBC reported, Icahn insisted on pushing to change an energy rule that would have impacted him financially, and when he learned that The New Yorker was going to publish a piece exposing his potentially illegal conflict of interest, he resigned to avoid making matters worse for himself.


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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Carl Icahn Donald Trump Republican Party Secret Service Trump International Hotel

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