Ethics watchdog slams Trump for 'corrupt' golf course promotion


Trump doesn't want to pay his legal fees — but he does want to promote his businesses.

Trump is using his Twitter feed to promote his golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland. But in a new twist, he's using his Scottish golf course to threaten a change in diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom.

Even before he ran for president, Trump was fighting the Scottish government over a wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen. Trump believed it would spoil the view from his golf course. Trump has a real thing about wind turbines, tweeting that they "are killing the finances and environment of many countries."

Trump lost the lawsuit back in 2015, and Scotland proceeded with the wind farm. Now, after years of wrangling, the courts in Scotland have ruled that Trump has to pay the Scottish government's legal fees in the lawsuit.

On Saturday, just after the decision was issued, Trump tweeted that he was "[v]ery proud of perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world."

Even by itself, that violates the Emoluments Clause, as Trump is using Twitter to promote his own business. Ethics officials immediately sounded the alarm. Walter Shaub, who was the director of the Office of Government Ethics when Trump took office, tweeted that Trump was engaging in "shameless, corrupt and repugnant presidential profiteering" and that Trump's tweet was "an invitation to graft." Want to curry favor with the president? Play his golf course.

So, the golf course tweet would have been bad enough had it ended there. But Trump went on to say that his golf course "furthers U.K. relationship!"

That's where things get really bad.

Ethics watchdog Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW) pointed out this was "making sure everyone knows he ties his business to US relationships with foreign countries." Trump's tweet seemed to imply that if he was unhappy with how the Scottish government dealt with him, that might affect diplomatic relations between the United States and the United Kingdom. It's a breathtaking corrupt move, even for Trump. Put in more blunt terms: Trump doesn't want to pay Scotland's legal fees, and if they make him do so, he just might tank relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, stateside authorities are looking into Trump's Scottish golf courses as well. Brian Frosh, Maryland's Attorney General, just demanded information about the courses to help him prove Trump continues to profit from his businesses.

Not that the businesses themselves are profitable. The Aberdeen course has lost money every year, and Trump has dumped nearly $70 million into the property. He has a better-known course in Turnberry, Scotland. He's thrown $200 million at that, and it still hasn't turned a profit.

No wonder Trump is using his Twitter account to try to drive business to his golf courses.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.