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Trump uses Twitter feed to sell book for Fox News personality, blurring ethical lines

Violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, from left, Bob Beckel, Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld and Andrea Tantaros co-hosts of Fox News Channel’s “The Five,” following a taping of the show in New York. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carlo Allegri
Kimberly Guilfoyle, from left, Bob Beckel, Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld and Andrea Tantaros co-hosts of Fox News Channel’s “The Five,” following a taping of the show in New York. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carlo Allegri

Tuesday morning President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet by Fox News commentator Eric Bolling promoting his upcoming book titled, “The Swamp.”

The book, subtitled “Washington’s Murky Pool of Corruption and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It,” co-opts Trump’s popular campaign slogan of his promise to “drain the swamp in Washington.”

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This promotion of commercial products could potentially violate a ban that prohibits federal employees from endorsing any “product, service, or enterprise.”

While this prohibition is not technically applied to the president, previous presidents have abided by it, much in the same way that while it is not necessarily required of the president to release tax returns or divest businesses, many before him have.

“The bottom line is that it is considered inappropriate and a violation of ethical principles for the president to endorse products or businesses. But this is just one of many examples of President Trump ignoring the ethical norms,” said Larry Noble, senior director of Campaign Legal Center and former General Counsel for the FEC.

This is not the first ethics battle the administration has faced. Last February, Kellyanne Conway gave a “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing on Fox News.

Conway was in clear violation of the prohibition, since in her position as counselor to the president she is a federal employee on the taxpayer dime. After outrage from ethics experts and members of Congress alike, Conway eventually received “counseling” on the subject.

This incident is an example of Trump’s inability to let go of his businessman persona.

“[Trump] apparently sees the presidency as just another marketing opportunity, whether he is pushing Mar-a-lago or his other golf courses,” says Noble. “Whether it’s his daughter’s company or a supporter’s book.”

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Trump has proved himself to be a fan of Bolling’s, particularly on Twitter. Back in July of 2016 he tweeted, “New book by @ericbolling is absolutely terrific and a must read! #WakeUpAmerica.” However in July of 2016, Trump was a candidate, not president.

The added fact that it was a Fox News commentator’s book is important to note, considering Trump shows obvious favoritism towards the network, providing Fox with exclusive interviews while shutting out others. In the last 24 hours alone, Trump has retweeted the “Fox & Friends” official account 4 times.