In just his first few days as president-elect, it’s become abundantly clear Donald Trump has no intention of addressing his unprecedented conflicts of interest and separating his business empire from his presidential obligations.
The latest indicator? Roughly 100 diplomats from around the world who gathered at Trump’s newest hotel in Washington, D.C. this week. According to a Washington Post report, they admired the lavish accommodations, won raffle prizes, sipped Trump champagne, and discussed how to make inroads with the new administration.
“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ” an unnamed diplomat from Asia told the Post.
Just prior to the election, the Trump International Hotel in D.C. was not such a popular spot. There were reports that the Trump name was hurting business and that room prices were being reduced far below those of other five-star hotels in the city to fill empty rooms. Clearly that’s a trend the Trumps were eager to reverse.
Courting international diplomats to his latest hotel isn’t the only sign that the barrier between the Trump presidency and the Trump brand is nonexistent. On Thursday night, the Trump transition released a photo of the president-elect’s first meeting with a head of state. Sitting in on the conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
Ivanka will likely serve as acting CEO of Trump’s companies moving forward, and her brothers Eric and Donald Jr. are expected to remain in key roles as well. All three are also members of the presidential transition team, currently tasked with selecting key officials in the forthcoming administration— something Trump and his advisers openly announced.
Unlike President Obama, who put his assets in government bonds and broad index funds, or President Bush, who placed his assets in a Qualified Diversified Trust, over which he had no control or input, Trump has made no attempt to separate himself from his vast personal wealth and the companies that stand to profit off his presidency.
On Thursday, a group of open-government watchdog organizations released a letter calling on Trump to transfer control over his business and financial holdings to an independent trustee — a “genuine blind trust or the equivalent” — citing the potential to “create conflicts of interest of unprecedented magnitude.”