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Raymond A. Hult: Corrupting the presidency for personal financial gain

President Donald Trump, center, surrounded by members of the Secret Service, walks across the tarmac to begin to greet supporters during his arrival at Palm Beach International Airport, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Trump traveled to Florida to spend the Easter weekend as his Mar-a-Lago estate. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The foreign Emoluments Clause is a provision in Article 1, section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting members of the federal government from receiving emoluments from foreign states without the consent of Congress. Emoluments are defined as personal financial gains.

President Trump has not only violated the Emoluments Clause on numerous occasions, but has regularly misused campaign donor and taxpayer funds to pad his financial portfolio.

Concerning the misuse of donor’s money from the beginning of Trump’s run of the presidency to the present time, he has continued to convert contributions to enrich himself. For example, Forbes reported that Trump-owned companies have continually benefitted from donor funds for things like food, lodging and rent.

“The result is that $2.2 million of (donor) contributions have turned into $2.2 million of revenue for Trump.”

Washington Post reporter David Farenthold specifically identified $380,000 in campaign funds funneled into Trump’s private businesses, much of which was spent at his Mar-a Logo resort.

To prevent this egregious use of the power of the presidency, other presidents have divested themselves of assets that could be used to tempt them to enrich themselves. Not so with President Trump.

There’s in essence a domestic emoluments clause that a president can make no money from the government other than his designated salary. It’s been estimated he has made out like a bandit by staying at his privately owned resorts and hotels. For example, it’s been reported taxpayer’s have paid as much as $650 a night at his properties to house Secret Service agents and a large cadre of other government employees required to accompany him.

The president likes making a buck off the taxpayer anyway he can. He’s made well over 100 trips to his resort at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. It has earned him well over $1 million from Secret Service agents and other government employees required to travel there with him, thus enriching his resort and personal fortune while resulting in government employee travel vouchers subsequently paid for with taxes provided by all of us.

Concerning the foreign Emoluments Clause, millions of dollars from foreign countries including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, India and the Philippians, just to mention a few of the foreign states, have financially benefitted Trump by staying at his privately owned U.S. properties.

He has used his position as president to coax foreign officials to boost his personal financial portfolio. For example, in 2018 it has been reported Robert Wood, the American ambassador to Britain was instructed to attempt to have the British government steer the world-famous British Open golf tournament to the Trump-owned Turnberry resort in Scotland. Trump has denied it ever happened. Yeah, sure!

There evidently has been an investigation of this alleged emolument violation that may have broken the law. NBC news has reported the alleged report has been completed and marked “classified.” The State Department inspector general supervising the report has been fired. An unclassified version has yet to be released. This may very well represent the attempt at an illegal coverup.

In addition, instead of saving money by having overseas military flights fuel at a theretofore U.S. airbase, Trump made it a practice to have the planes refuel at a higher cost at a small airport near his resort in Turnberry. The crews were required to spend the night at his resort, thus once more enriching his personal wealth at taxpayer expense.

Ireland adds to the taxpayer rip-off. It involves the trip by Vice President Pence to meet with officials in Dublin, Ireland. Instead of flying straight there and staying in a local hotel, he commuted back and forth from the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, located 182 miles away, thus unnecessarily inflating the cost of the trip to $599,000. A similar previous trip by President Obama cost the taxpayer only $114,000.

Although being criticized to the point of finally backing down, Trump tried to get the G-7 Summit at his 800-acre Trump National golf resort in Miami. Nice try, anyway.

He’s the only American president I’m aware of who has so misused his exalted station with a primary goal of enriching his personal net worth.

Raymond A. Hult

Raymond A. Hult, Bountiful, is a retired FBI special agent who worked numerous fraud against the government investigations.

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