About a month after the inauguration, Eric Trump told Forbes he and his brother Don Jr. planned to maintain “a clear separation of church and state” between their father’s presidency and the business he continues to own, which is now being run by them.
Eric acknowledged his plan to give his father quarterly profit reports — thereby breaking Trump’s promise to not discuss business with his sons — but added he was “deadly serious” about not meddling with his dad’s administration.
“There is kind of a clear separation of church and state that we maintain, and I am deadly serious about that exercise,” Eric said. “I do not talk about the government with him, and he does not talk about the business with us. That’s kind of a steadfast pact we made, and it’s something that we honor.”
Don Jr. echoed Eric’s comments during a speech at a GOP fundraiser in Dallas a few weeks later, saying of his father, “I basically have zero contact with him at this point.”
But on Thursday evening, Don Jr. used his social media channels to blatantly hawk merchandise that benefits a political action committee working on behalf of his father’s reelection.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 1, 2017
Don Jr.’s posts come about a week after he, Eric, and Eric’s wife Lara held multiple meetings with Republican National Committee officials in Washington, D.C.
“Their appearance at the RNC irked at least two prominent Republicans who were briefed on the session, who wondered whether it was appropriate for the president’s sons, who run the Trump family real estate business, to be highly involved in discussing the party’s strategy and resources,” the Washington Post reported.
The reciprocal financial interests at work are clear. Since becoming president, Trump has repeatedly visited properties bearing his name, raising their profile as a result. In turn, his sons have leveraged that exposure into marketing opportunities. For instance, in late March, Don Jr. promoted the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia on his social media accounts the Monday following a weekend in which President Trump visited the club twice.
Meanwhile, by putting his kids in charge of a business he still owns, receives quarterly briefings about, and can still even draw profits from, Trump has ensured that the Trump Organization still operates for his benefit. His unprecedented refusal to divest from his business interests means he’s profiting off the presidency more directly than any other president in modern times.
The Trump administration has even used government resources to promote the Trump brand. In April, an official State Department website promoted President Trump’s private club in Florida. About a week later, taxpayer-funded Voice of America promoted Ivanka Trump’s new book on its website and Twitter account.