The Raw Story
The firing of Preet Bharara and other U.S. Attorneys last week was suspicious for one reason: It comes at a time when Donald Trump’s business is booming all over the world, which calls for a healthy skepticism — if not a federal investigation — of its legalities.
It was only two months ago that the president promised to terminate “all pending deals” and impose “severe restrictions” on any new ventures. He can’t even shut down his charitable foundation, because it’s under investigation for being a vehicle for political donations, legal expenses, and gifts to himself.
He has kept none of those promises, yet no one in Congress authorized to uphold ethical standards has shown much interest in oversight.
So we’re back to where we were before the election: Trump still hasn’t fully divested, endless conflicts persist, and his businesses remain under the control of family members who communicate with him regularly.
This is not how it’s supposed to work. The president should not make policy decisions that affect his personal wealth — even if it’s the fringe benefit of having his name on hotels around the world — because his business interests, which are remarkable for their opacity, are not supposed to supersede those of the country.
Trump’s mind-boggling conflict of interests | Editorial
He still makes a fortune from the Old Post Office in D.C., which by law cannot benefit any elected official, not even the president. His hotel chain is expanding throughout the planet, as its CEO just announced it will triple its size in the U.S alone. After the election, he even doubled the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago to $200,000, a substantial profit for our entrepreneur in chief.
Speaking of suspicious timing: Last Wednesday, three large public interest groups — led by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — sent a letter to Bharara asking him to investigate whether the financial benefits received by Trump comply with the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits government from accepting profits or gifts from foreign governments without Congressional approval.
Just three days later, Trump fired Bharara.
That was concurrent with news that regulators in China — a market that Trump has long relished to enter — gave him 38 lucrative trademarks that permit him to use his name on everything from golf clubs to nursing homes.
In a semi-related story, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, just closed a deal with China’s largest insurance company, Anbang, that will bring in $400 million for his Fifth Avenue office tower — a surprising investment, analysts told Bloomberg, given that the property has struggled financially.