The over-riding principle of Donald Trump

Do things that enrich Donald Trump.  Everything else– even xenophobia– is secondary.  Good stuff from Greg Sargent:

we have finally sighted one bedrock principle, one unshakable constant in Trump’s conduct, from which he will never waver.

We’re talking, of course, about Trump’s absolute, unfaltering devotion to using the powers of the presidency to serve his own financial self-interest.

With the G-7 winding down, Trump just disclosed that he’s seriously considering hosting next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral resort in Florida. Trump extolled his resort for its location (right near the airport!), size (tremendous acreage!) and amenities (great conference rooms!).

Trump gave “a long commercial of sorts for the property,” notes The Post, adding that if he goes through with this plan, he “could personally profit from one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of foreign leaders.”

“Trump appears to consistently use the presidency to advance his businesses — both to publicize them and to directly bring in business — as often as he can,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me. “This is entirely consistent with what he’s done in the past.”…

Such a move would also intensify the corrosive effects of Trump’s corruption and self-dealing. Consider the example this sets.

“There are a lot of people in the government whose job is to decide on contracts and locations for government events,” Bookbinder told me. “One of the most basic rules of serving in the government is to avoid conflicts of interest.”

“If you’re somebody who makes those decisions, you wouldn’t dream of considering a business you have an interest in,” Bookbinder continued. “The idea that the president is ignoring principles that are basic to every contracting officer throughout the government is amazing.”…

The contempt for basic anti-corruption and governing norms here runs even deeper than this. Since refusing to divest from his businesses, Trump has insisted that he’s not profiting off governing decisions. But this doesn’t address the basic problem here, which is that divestment is needed to remove any appearance of or incentive for such conflicts of interest.

Now Trump appears ready to make a major governing decision that will benefit his businesses — and is flaunting it. He’s unfurling a big middle finger in the face of the underlying reason we have the divestment norm in the first place — so we can be confident the president is making decisions in the public interest, not his own.

And Jon Bernstein piles on (appropriately) in his newsletter:

That Trump is using the presidency for personal gain is bad. That he’s willing to at least encourage the appearance of flat-out bribery – suggesting that he’ll favor those who stay at his hotels and otherwise enrich him – undermines the idea of constitutional government.

Perhaps worse is the blatant lawlessness. Trump’s job, of course, is to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” And yet he proceeds as if the emolument clauses of the Constitution simply don’t exist. For the president to get away with this kind of thing just because he can promotes contempt for the entire concept of the rule of law.

And then there’s the example Trump sets. Why should any other elected official or government employee avoid conflicts of interest when the president flirts with them constantly? It’s not surprising that an unusual number of high-level officials in this administration have left office after scandals. When the president exploits his public position for personal gain so openly, the clear implication is that only a chump would miss a chance to do the same.

Trump, of course, claims that he’s losing money on the presidency. Who knows? That could even be true. But given that he’s the first president since before Richard Nixon to hide his tax returns, there’s little reason to believe him. Even in the unlikely event that the presidency is a net loser for Trump, that still doesn’t excuse the constant advertisements for his personal businesses. And it certainly doesn’t excuse behavior that mocks the rule of law.

Trump is so awful on so many levels and we’re so used to it that this appallingly shameful behavior that is inimical to democracy pretty much just goes ignored by our whole political system.  Sad!!

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