G-7 at Trump’s Doral resort? The original sin of this presidency is failure to divest.

President Donald Trump’s use of his public office to enrich himself has reached a new low. At a public appearance at the summit of the Group of Seven major industrial nations last week, he proposed that the next meeting be held in Doral, Florida, at the golf resort that his business owns. Not long afterward, the official White House account tweeted, “President @realDonaldTrump shares the location of the next @G7 summit, hosted by the United States!”.

Hosting the summit at Doral would compel the federal government to spend money at the resort and could potentially require foreign governments to do the same. The result would be an enormous windfall for the president and his business, not to mention publicity and promotion of the property — an advertising campaign money could not buy.

Abusing office, breaking promises

This is Trump’s latest scheme to profit off of his time in public office. In less than three years, Trump’s failure to divest from his businesses and his actions as president have resulted in more than 2,300 conflicts of interest between his administration and his personal financial interests, according to a report released this month by my organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Those conflicts are not merely a breach of Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” — they also constitute abuses of the powers of his high office that should be the subject of an impeachment inquiry.

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President Trump’s failure to divest from his businesses was the original sin of his presidency, because that failure made conflicts of interest inevitable. It meant that countless decisions he would make as president would have the potential to be influenced by his own financial interests.

Presidential conflicts of interests are repugnant for another reason: The Constitution specifies that the president shall receive fixed compensation and restricts the profits, gains and advantages that he or she can accept from foreign and domestic governments. Those restrictions, set forth in the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses, reflect the framers’ desire to prevent governments from trying to curry the president’s favor.

Trump’s abuse of his public office for private gain manifests itself in three distinct ways:.

Give Trump business, reap rewards

First, he frequently uses his office in a way that directly benefits his businesses by using his platform to advertise Trump properties. Over the course of his presidency, Trump has tweeted about or mentioned one of his properties 171 times, and White House officials have followed suit: Members of Trump’s White House have mentioned specific Trump properties 66 times.

The promotion is more than just talk. The Trump administration rewards special interests that patronize his businesses by giving them access to high-level officials. Members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort who had no policy expertise were given the opportunity to influence a technology project at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to the immense frustration of VA employees. Foreign governments and organizations linked to foreign governments have hosted 12 events at Trump properties since the president took office. These events have been attended by at least 19 administration officials.

Second, the fact that Trump continues to profit from his businesses encourages those who want to remain in his good graces to spend money at those businesses. Far from resisting the president’s impulses, administration officials, members of Congress and Republican Party operatives have been eager to demonstrate their loyalty to the president by patronizing his businesses.

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Pence, Barr and conflicts galore

We learned last week that Attorney General William Barr has booked the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., For a holiday party that is likely to result in $30,000 for Trump’s family business. While Barr is paying out of his own pocket, not using taxpayer funds, Barr is the individual with the ultimate authority over investigations of the president’s affairs and over Justice Department attorneys who are defending Trump from the accusation that he is receiving profits, gains and advantages at the Trump hotel in violation of the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses.

Restore transparency:Potential conflicts, fraud, influence-peddling are why Congress can and must see Trump taxes.

Corporate executives and industry groups with business interests before the Trump administration have made frequent trips to stay at his properties. For example, the day after T-Mobile announced a major merger with Sprint, which required approval from two federal agencies, nine T-Mobile executives checked into Trump’s Washington hotel.

Within the administration, CREW has recorded 643 visits to Trump properties from at least 253 Trump administration officials, including high-level White House staff, members of Trump’s Cabinet and individual agency employees. In addition, 94 members of Congress have made 193 visits to a Trump property. Forty-seven state officials, including 20 Republican governors, have made 64 visits to Trump properties, sometimes resulting in state taxpayer funds being spent there.

Even the vice president has made a habit of patronizing the president’s businesses. Since its creation in 2017, Mike Pence’s political action committee has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars at Trump properties, according to Federal Election Commission records maintained by ProPublica. During an official visit to Ireland this week, Pence and his entourage are staying at a golf resort owned by the president even though the resort, in Doonbeg, is several hours away from Dublin, where Pence’s official meetings are taking place.

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Acting for America or his bottom line?

Third, Trump has visited his properties 365 times at taxpayer expense during his tenure, sometimes visiting more than one of them in a single day. The president has spent time at a Trump-brand property on nearly a third of the days he has been president.

Trump self-enrichment:It’s a taxpayer-backed cash grab.

All of Trump’s conflicts of interest are serious, calling into question whether the leader of the country is acting for the American people or for his own bottom line, but some of them also run afoul of the Constitution. When the president moves beyond merely self-serving and unethical conduct to violating the rules put into our founding document to guard against the kind of corruption that most scared the framers, those corrupt actions should be among the subjects of an impeachment inquiry.

When our Founders chose to make a president removable from office for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” they had in mind the misuse of official power that breaches public trust. President Trump’s conflicts documented by CREW, many of which represent likely violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, easily fit the bill.

A president’s foremost concern should be the well-being of the republic — not advancing his own personal fortunes. Congress is empowered by the Constitution to hold the president to that standard, and it is time for them to do so.

Noah Bookbinder is the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Follow him on Twitter: @NoahBookbinder.

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