Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration–October 2019 Update

The recent and still-unfolding scandal involving President Trump’s apparent pressure on Ukraine to investigate and/or provide dirt on his political rivals has to some degree overshadowed many of the other ethical concerns about President Trump’s behavior in office, including a slew of credible allegations that the President, his family members, and close associates have been using the presidency to advance their personal financial interests. (That said, the Ukraine scandal has also drawn greater attention to at least one aspect of this problem, as it did not go unnoticed that in the now-infamous phone July 25 phone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky, the latter went out of his way to emphasize how much he enjoyed staying in a Trump hotel in New York, which is consistent with longstanding fears that those hoping to influence Trump will give their patronage to his businesses.)

Back in May 2017, GAB began tracking and cataloguing credible allegations of this sort of profiteering by President Trump and his family and cronies. Until May 2019, we’d been updating that report on a monthly basis. The tracker hadn’t been updated for several months since then, partly due to my own lack of organization, and partly because there are now a number of other higher-profile, better-resourced projects with a similar goal. (Among these, I particularly recommend the those from the Sunlight Foundation and from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.) But I think GAB’s somewhat distinctive approach to organizing and describing these concerns might still have sufficient added value that we’re restarting our regular updates to the Trump conflict-of-interest tracker. The newest update is now available here.

A previously noted while we try to include only those allegations that appear credible, we acknowledge that many of the allegations that we discuss are speculative and/or contested. We also do not attempt a full analysis of the laws and regulations that may or may not have been broken if the allegations are true. For an overview of some of the relevant federal laws and regulations that might apply to some of the alleged problematic conduct, see here.

2 thoughts on “Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration–October 2019 Update

  1. I wonder what it says for the future of anti-corruption legislation and enforcement in the U.S. that we haven’t seen any actual consequences of the Trump White House using its platform to financially benefit the various Trump brands.

    Is it that strict regulations don’t actually exist for these types of conflicts of interest and that previous presidents have acted more out of a sense of political duty to distance themselves from potential conflicts (like say Jimmy Carter), or are the laws just not being enforced?

  2. Thank you for highlighting that exchange on the call. I noticed it on the first read-through but subsequently forgot about it. I think it is a really interesting form of flattery to bring up a President’s business interests and the fact that the Ukrainian president talks about how as a private individual he was a direct client of Trump (I believe Trump tower is still owned by the Trump organization). It was especially to read Trump acknowledges this on the call and see how it appeared to color his reply. As your tracker notes, this type of patronage or highlighting of patronage is not unusual as it relates to Trump, but it is really interesting to see that it is explicitly used in a direct conversation between the President and another world leader.

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