The post was the latest example of what ethics experts have complained is Trump’s manipulation of his powerful office to enrich himself and his family. His businesses can also serve as a conduit for money to Trump from those currying favor with him, violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. The clause prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments and officials. Unlike other presidents, Trump has refused to divest from his businesses.
The president retweeted to his 62 million Twitter followers a post from the Trump Organization about what it termed the “Trump Triangle” — golf courses in Turnberry and Aberdeenshire in Scotland, and in Doonbeg, Ireland, where he traveled in June after a state visit to London. Trump reportedly had insisted that Ireland’s prime minister meet with him at his golf course, but the Irish leader refused such an arrangement as “unseemly,” according to a representative. The men met instead at a Shannon Airport lounge.
The plug retweeted by Trump hails his businesses as “three of the most spectacular courses in the world @TrumpGolf.” The tweet adds: “Tune into @GolfChannel next week during @TheOpen to catch our latest commercial.” The post linked to a 30-second commercial for the courses. A narrator invites viewers to “visit Trumpgolf.com today to book your ultimate links tour.”
Bloomberg News reported that the commercial is scheduled to run the coming week to coincide with the British Open Championship that starts Thursday at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.
Trump pulled a similar stunt in March. He retweeted a Trump Organization plug for his Aberdeenshire club, and then called it “perhaps the greatest” course in the world. He also claimed his business “furthers U.K. relationship!”
At the time, Walter Shaub, the government’s ethics chief under President Barack Obama whose tenure overlapped for a few months into the Trump administration, called the post “Trump’s most explicit commingling of personal interests and public office to date.”
It’s “shameless, corrupt and repugnant presidential profiteering ... [and an] invitation to graft,” he said.
Earlier this week the Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump brought by Washington, D.C., and Maryland officials. The suit had accused Trump of illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his Washington hotel. But the three-judge panel ruled that the officials lacked legal standing to bring the suit.
Financial filings in Britain last August revealed that Trump’s two Scottish courses posted a combined loss of $6.1 million in 2017, according to Bloomberg.