It’s easy to forget amid the ever-widening Russia scandal, but Donald Trump continues to use the presidency for profit in an unprecedented manner.
As he departed France on Friday, Trump promoted an appearance he plans to make at the U.S. Women’s Open, which is being held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Left Paris for U.S.A. Will be heading to New Jersey and attending the#USWomensOpen, their most important tournament, this afternoon.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2017
When he became president, Trump refused to follow decades of precedent and divest from his business interests. That means he still personally profits from the properties he owns, including the Bedminster golf course.
Trump regularly visits his golf courses and other properties, showering them with the free publicity that comes with the arrival of the president. According to the New York Times’ tracker of his weekend trips, Trump has visited his various golf courses on 35 separate occasions since taking office, and spent another 25 days at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
During a news conference in January where Trump announced he planned to retain full ownership of his business after taking office, he said that his two adult sons — Donald Jr. and Eric — would handle the Trump Organization’s day-to-day operations. He and his sons vowed to maintain a firewall between business and the Trump administration.
“My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company,” Trump said. “They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They’re not going to discuss it with me.”
But just after the inauguration, Eric admitted that he planned to give his dad regular profits reports. Eric and Donald Jr. have appeared on national television for interviews where they have alternatively defended their father’s presidency and promoted new Trump Organization business initiatives. Donald Jr. has used his Twitter account to hawk his father’s campaign merchandise.
As the Russia scandal has intensified in recent weeks, Eric and Donald Jr. have emerged as key White House’s key media surrogates. Just last week, Eric went on Fox News, urged Americans to ignore the “nonsense” being reported by the mainstream media, and said they should instead focus on the lines at Home Depot as evidence the Trump administration is doing a good job.
At times, the coordination has been more subtle. In March, following a weekend in which Trump Sr. visited the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia, Donald Jr. promoted an event at the club on his Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.
UPDATE (7/15, 8:30 a.m.): On Friday night, Trump took things a step further and used Twitter to explicitly promote the U.S. Women’s Open event being held at his club.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2017
That tweet was posted less than two hours after Trump posted one thanking the U.S. Armed Forces for their service.