The news on CBS this a.m. that taxpayers are saddled with footing the $100,000 bill for a recent Eric Trump skylark trip to South America - to cover Secret Service protection for the punk - ought to have every red-blooded American up in arms. Mainly, WHY are we having to pay for any Secret Service protection for him to go galavanting or his brother Donald Jr.?
Eric Trump jetted to Uruguay in early January for a Trump Organization promotional trip, U.S. taxpayers were left footing a bill of nearly $100,000 in hotel rooms for Secret Service and embassy staff. WHY? Why isn't this rich little asshole paying his own freight? Especially as the trip wasn't for any government business but enabling Eric to mingle with real estate brokers, dining at an open-air beachfront eatery and speaking to hundreds at an “ultra exclusive” Trump Tower Punta del Este evening party celebrating his visit. WHY did the S.S. have to go along at all? And - if the punk needed protection - why didn't he pay for his own bodyguards?
More specifically, Eric Trump's Uruguayan trip shows how the government has now become unavoidably entangled with the Trump company as a result of the Donald's refusal to divest his ownership stake. In this case, government agencies are forced to pay to support business operations that ultimately help to enrich the president himself. Are any of Trump's groupies, who bitch, piss and moan about "welfare queens" and entitlements, paying any attention to these corporate welfare queens?
This issue is germane, given Donald Jr. and Eric are now planning another jaunt - after opening a rich boy's palace in Dubai- for a new Trump Tower in Vancouver, Canada. The total for both trips likely to run over a half million smackeroos to the U.S. taxpayer. Kathleen Clark, an expert on government ethics and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, quoted in The Washington Post, observed:
"This is an example of the blurring of the line between the personal interest in the family business and the government,"
Bingo! Which is why the whole Trump cabal ought to have been stopped cold turkey in December when the electors had the chance to do it by denying him the electoral votes. But they abdicated their duty and put party over country, in allowing a two bit chiseling scalawag to become president and drag in his money-grubbing spawn with him - who now need Secret Service protection at U.S. taxpayer expense.
A huge casualty has been transparency despite the use of public funds. Hence, the affected government agencies have not provided key details connected to the Trump boys' trips, including the duration of the stays, the names of the hotels or the number of booked rooms. A spokesman from the Secret Service, citing security concerns, declined to comment. However what we do know is the Secret Service has the option not to partake of protection excursions if the latter are not specifically to do with government business.
A bit of background here: In 1917, Congress first authorized the then-Secret Service Division of the U.S. Treasury Department to protect the immediate family of the president. In 1984, a statute extended that protection for other key individuals, including the immediate family of the vice president. However, and this is important, this was not so the family members could go on jaunts designed to enrich their own family businesses. That is when protection became optional.
Thus the recent claim (ibid.) of W. Ralph Basham, former director of the service:
"The Secret Service does not have an option as to when it is, where it is, nor as to how much it costs, and whether it’s domestic or international. Think about the consequences of something happening to one of the children. The security of it outweighs the expenses of it.”
May be true to a first approximation, but still doesn't controvert the fact that the S.S. protection itself is optional - and they can choose to do so or not. For whatever reason - maybe to enjoy some exotic sights - they have chosen to do so for the two Trump rich boys, Eric and Donald. No one is saying - again- they might not need protection in these parlous times, only that they should pay for it themselves instead of doing it from the public purse.
All of this in concert affords more reasons why Trump's business entanglements need to be investigated in relation to the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Indeed, as Norm Eisen- a former Obama administration ethics adviser-- put it:
"Having refused to sever his own personal financial interests, [the president] is now sending his emissaries, his sons, out to line his own pockets, and he’s subsidizing that activity with taxpayer dollars,”
Eisen is now part of a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating a constitutional provision barring presidents from taking payments from foreign governments
At the very least, his two sons should not be galavanting to Trump Towers around the world with security paid by U.S. taxpayers.