President Donald Trump launched a pitch on Saturday from the White House for one of his private golf courses, triggering an angry reaction from a watchdog group.
Trump touted his controversial Trump Scotland course in Aberdeenshire in a tweet as “perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.” He even attached a tweet from his own Trump Organization plugging the course. The president also insisted that the course, which he opened in 2012, “furthers U.K. relationship!”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington snapped back minutes later: “There it is. The president using an official statement as an ad for his business” … and linking his businesses to “U.S. relationships with foreign countries.”
A White House pitch from a president for one of his many businesses is extraordinary in the history of the U.S. where commanders in chief typically divest from holdings — or place them in a blind trust. Trump has done neither.
CREW is suing Trump, citing the Constitution’s ban on national leaders using their office for financial gain, among other issues.
CREW adviser and former Office of Government Ethics chief Walter Shaub called the latest tweet 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 added.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before the House oversight committee Wednesday that Trump never expected to win the presidency, but decided to run to push his brand. “Mr. Trump would often say this campaign was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history,’” he testified. “He had no desire or intention to lead this nation, only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.”
Another one of Trump’s golf courses came up in Cohen’s questioning that day by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). She cited a Washington Post article about the Trump Organization profiting from a public course in the Bronx constructed with $127 million in city taxpayer funds.
It’s not clear Trump’s Scottish courses are “furthering UK relationships.” His two Scottish courses are unpopular with local residents and have been attacked for environmental damage. A review by government conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage determined that as much as 168 acres were “destroyed” as a result of Trump’s Aberdeenshire course, The Associated Press reported.
Trump promised that the Aberdeenshire course would employ 6,000 people and would pour tax money into Scottish coffers. The course employs 84 people, according to The Washington Post, and that course and another at Turnberry in Ayrshire have paid no taxes because they lose more than $1 million a year, according to financial filings analyzed by Business Insider.
Just weeks after Trump was elected president he harangued British politician and key Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage at a meeting in New York to campaign against an alternative-energy windmill farm in Scotland because they ruin the views near his Aberdeenshire course. “When I look out of my window and I see these windmills, it offends me,” Trump was quoted as saying by a UK official, the BBC reported.
Trump sued the Scottish government over the windmill farm — and lost. A Scottish court on Thursday ordered Trump to pay the Scottish government’s legal costs fighting the suit.
Trump managed to highlight his Turnberry course after flying with an entourage to the spot after an official visit to Britain last summer. The U.S. government paid the resort $77,000 before he arrived, according to records.