Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visits are the ultimate grift: The more he vacations, the more he profits


No reasonable person would say presidents don’t have the right to vacation a little. It’s a stressful job and they’re never fully off the job anyway. But there’s “a little” and there’s “28 percent of the time, in such a way as to profit yourself.” Guess which category Donald Trump is in? (And in fact, he attacked President Obama for vacationing—saying “If you’re in the White House, who wants to take a vacation?”—but that’s covered by the “no reasonable person” clause above).

Yes, 28 percent of the time:

… since his January inauguration, President Trump has spent seven of 13 weekends at his Palm Beach, Florida estate. According to NBC News’ estimates by Sunday Trump will have spent 28 percent of his term traveling to or staying at Mar-a-Lago. Trump hosted his second world leader at the “winter White House” last weekend, with Chinese President Xi Jinping joining Trump for meetings Thursday and Friday. Trump stayed the rest of the weekend, frequenting his nearby golf club on both days.

And that doesn’t cover Trump’s trips to his Virginia golf club or his Washington, D.C., hotel—not “vacations” as such, but opportunities to promote his own properties, from which he is still profiting. That, more than the amount of time he is spending away from the White House, is the important issue:

“It’s just another example of his consistent efforts to exploit public office for private gain,” ethics expert Steve Schooner told NBC News. “He’s using his official office and the fact that people have to travel with him, meet him, and follow him to promote his commercial enterprise, in this case his privately owned club.” […]

“This is a privately owned club that for all intents and purposes was just another golf property in Florida before, that almost now is something that Americans immediately recognize,” Schooner continued. “Imagine what you would have to pay to get that kind of brand recognition. That’s extraordinary.”

As we’ve seen from the amount of time he obviously spends watching Fox News and tweeting about it, Trump is fully capable of being in the White House and not working. He’s getting something more important (to him) out of visiting his properties. He’s building the brand, justifying Mar-a-Lago’s doubled membership fees, and drawing business from people who want to be in a room with him or just plain suck up. Profit, profit, profit, with a heaping side of surrounding himself with sycophants.

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