China approves Trump trademarks, now he can use the White House to profit from escort services, massage parlors


China has approved a slew of trademarks for Donald Trump, setting up another avenue for him and his family to use the White House as a profit center, even for massage parlors and escort services.

The Associated Press reports that China has approved 38 Trump-related trademarks, "paving the way for President Donald Trump and his family to develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services."

China is the world’s largest market for luxury goods, so a trademark there could quickly become a profit center, enriching Trump with a gift from the Chinese government.

His lawyers applied for the trademarks in April of 2016 as he swept Republican presidential primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, on his way to winning the nomination. The applications were made as Trump paid lip service to attacking China and accusing the country of currency manipulation, all while secretly working to generate personal profits there.

For years since his humiliating bankruptcy filings, Trump has more often licensed his name to projects rather than run the risk of having them collapse under his own haphazard management style. The Chinese trademarks allow Trump to extend this behavior to branded spas, massage parlors, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real estate companies, retail shops, restaurants, bars, and private bodyguard and escort services — all in a continuation of Trump’s pattern of using American politics and the intense media coverage associated with it to generate brand recognition for himself and the resulting profits.

The AP's report notes that if Trump receives special treatment for his trademark applications, it would be a violation of the Constitution, which forbids presidents from receiving special favors from foreign governments unless given congressional approval. Trump has already been sued for continuing to accept foreign payments after being sworn in as president, behavior that would certainly constitute an impeachable offense.

The timing of Trump’s trademark approval has already been questioned by Democrats, who are pushing for an investigation of his dealings with China.

And Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, told the AP that the volume of approvals raised red flags: "With so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is an accommodation in at least some of them."

But while he was bellicose during the campaign about China, since assuming the presidency he has flip flopped in favor of retaining the "One China" policy, and has not made a follow-up to his phone call with Taiwan’s president, a move that rankled the Chinese government immediately following the election.

Perhaps the prospect of a new windfall has served to quiet his bluster on the subject.