When it comes to denouncing the practice of enriching the children of elected officials, Donald Trump is casting stones from inside a glass house. As Trump rails each day against the business deals that Hunter Biden allegedly benefitted from as son of the vice president, he is counting on America to forget that his daughter Ivanka, a senior adviser in his administration, is profiting from the Trump International Hotel — a den of open influence-peddling in Washington — or that his sons are the top executives of the Trump Organization, the profits from which benefit the president personally.
Just perhaps, what Trump is really mad about is that his kids are not winning the kind of rich deals abroad that he feels should accrue to the scions of the president of the United States.
The latest failure? Scotland has rejected Eric Trump’s pitch to develop luxury housing around the Trump Turnberry golf resort. President Trump has long bragged about his golf resorts as development deals, insisting in 2016, “I have the right to build thousands of homes” on his European golf properties.
But The Scotsman reports that local officials like the rolling agricultural fields along the Firth of Clyde coastline more than they like pleasing the son of the United States president. Eric Trump had pitched local authorities on a plan to transform farmland surrounding the resort into villas and golf homes. The development play was an effort to juice revenues at Trump Turnberry, which has lost roughly $40 million since Trump acquired it in 2014.
The Trumps had reportedly pitched local authorities on its “excellent track record of investment in the area” and the new jobs the villas would create. The Scotsman estimates the Trump development plan would have required investment of roughly $18 million in the property, located about 50 miles from Glasgow.
However, local authorities disagreed with this economic calculus, writing that development around Turnberry would lessen its attractiveness as a host site for major golf events. “We will protect existing golf courses and . . . will not generally allow development which we consider may negatively affect the status of Turnberry” as a potential venue for the British Open, they wrote. According to The Scotsman, the land that the Trumps sought to develop “will remain zoned as prime agricultural land, deemed unsuitable for housing.”
Trump Turnberry’s troubled finances have already enmeshed the resort in a scandal of alleged presidential self-dealing. The Defense Department has been scheduling hundreds of overnight refueling stops for military aircraft at Prestwick airport, just a few miles from the resort. And military flight crews have been lodged on the taxpayer dime at Trump’s property, with stays often stretching into multiday golf excursions due to inclement weather. The Pentagon has reported spending nearly $185,000 at Turnberry since Trump took office.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, head of the House Oversight committee, has raised constitutional red flags over this practice in a letter to the Defense Department: “Given the President’s continued financial stake in his Scotland golf courses, these reports raise questions about the President’s potential receipt of U.S. or foreign governments’ emoluments in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” he wrote, “and raise other serious conflict of interest concerns.”
But for Trump, conflicts of interest are for other people. The most shameless man ever to occupy the Oval Office has no compunction about decrying the business deals of other politicians’ children, even as he and his own kin profit off the presidency. In fact, the president has openly suggested that the interests of the Trump Organization are the same as the foreign-policy interests of the United States and its top allies.
In March, he wrote that another Trump golf course in Scotland is not only “the greatest” but that it “furthers the U.K. relationship!”
Very proud of perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world. Also, furthers U.K. relationship! https://t.co/3xTzzJH6Iq
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2019
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence — who is under congressional investigation for steering his official travel in Ireland 180 miles out of the way to include a stay at a Trump golf property — backed up his boss’s pursuit of foreign dirt on the Bidens: “The American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States, or his family, profited from his position,” Pence said of Joe Biden. “When you hold the second-highest office in the land,” he added without irony, “it comes with unique responsibilities, not just to be above impropriety, but to be above the appearance of impropriety.”