While Donald Trump may know little about health care or military strategy, he does know a lot about self-promotion and the ways that promotion happens. Case in point is his response to Steve Bannon on the cover of Time earlier this year:
Whether Bannon engaged in self-promotion and placed his own interests ahead of the President’s is not that interesting in terms of accountability. What is interesting is the promotion of Mar-a-Lago on at least two US embassy websites (the UK and Albania) and on the State Department website. To quote Donald Trump: “That doesn’t just happen.”
The promotional post was written by Leigh Hartman for the official US State Department blog ShareAmerica which is funded with taxpayer dollars to share “compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.” A story about Mar-a-Lago doesn’t easily fit into any of these editorial categories.
Even Republican lawmakers are critical of the post with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) calling for the post to be removed and asking questions about how this happened: “There should be a statement to provide some clarity as to how that happened, but that’s the kind of thing that should not happen. I think what you have to look at is the compliance that the government ethics office requires. They’re the ones that are going to say if he is or is not in compliance, and will more or less be the referee on that situation.”
There are serious ethical issues with the President of the United States not placing his personal business in a blind trust. There are even greater ethical issues when a taxpayer funded news outlet promotes his business interests. That doesn’t just happen.