President Donald Trump is making massive amounts of money off his office — or at least, he’s trying to. Despite widely circulated points like his melodramatic refusal to accept the presidential salary, Trump’s campaign and associated Republican groups have already spent a whopping $16.8 million at Trump-owned properties since he launched his initial 2016 presidential bid. And just to be clear — the pace of Republican spending at Trump properties was dramatically lower before he started running for president. Trump has not financially detached himself from his businesses, although he made a show of ceding executive control (and that concession has proven suspect at best). That means the president has been pouring money into his own coffers.
Already in the 2020 campaign cycle, Trump campaign committees have spent some $1.3 million at Trump properties, and the Republican National Committee has spent about $123,000 there. The next two top spenders are pro-Trump PACs including the Great America Committee and America First Action, who’ve spent about $104,000 and $80,000 at Trump properties, respectively.
And Republican members of Congress have been helping. According to the same data analysis published this month by Open Secrets, a full 48 different Republican members of Congress have also spent campaign money at Trump properties. Top spenders include now former Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy, who spent over $20,000 at Trump properties and just this week made headlines for questioning the loyalty of a National Security Council official after they dared to testify against Trump.
Other top Republican spenders outside the Trump campaign itself include Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who’s spent over $15,000; Vice President Mike Pence’s brother Greg, who as an Indiana Congressman has spent almost $15,000 at Trump properties; and other leading Republicans like prominent Trump shill and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who’ve spent about $12,000 and $8,500 at Trump properties, respectively.
Soon, Senate Republicans are going to be amplifying the spending even more with a two-day “Save the Senate” retreat next month at Trump’s D.C. hotel, which is the top target for domestic political funds. It’s also been the target for foreign funds — way back right after Trump got elected, Saudi government lobbyists spent some $270,000 at the hotel. In the time since, Trump has made his affinity for the murderous Saudis loud and clear, even ignoring evidence implicating their leaders in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In this case — how on earth are we supposed to trust Trump and Republicans to be even remotely credible on a wide array of issues when this kind of demonstrably profitable backroom money pool is in place? It’s not as though they’ve given us much reason to. Trump has lied a whopping 13,000 times in office and counting, and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney recently claimed that Trump was “surprised” by criticism he got from even some Republicans over his since cancelled plans to hold next year’s G7 summit of world leaders at his Doral resort in the Miami area. The corruption train has ended up delivering a reckoning for Trump thanks to the ongoing formal impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats.