It’s the toughest job in the world: president of the United States, forced to juggle so many weighty issues at once: foreign policy, terrorism, the economy, jobs, health care, climate change, immigration, drugs and crime.So what does Donald Trump find time to focus on? His daughter’s clothing line. Yes, at 9:51 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 — while the official White House calendar showed he was in the middle of his daily intelligence briefing — Trump fired off a tweet to his 24.2 million Twitter followers attacking Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka Trump’s brand of merchandise: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”Still not satisfied, Trump ordered that the same tweet be dispatched from the official White House Twitter account to another 15.1 million followers and then sent out Press Secretary Sean Spicer to accuse Nordstrom of playing politics. Trump, he insisted, was doing nothing more than responding to “an attack on his daughter.”Nonsense. Nordstrom officials explained that their move was strictly a business decision. Ivanka’s stuff wasn’t selling, so they decided to pull the plug. “Over the past year … sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now,” Nordstrom said in a statement.But the White House wasn’t finished hawking Ivanka goodies. The very next morning, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway — speaking from the White House Briefing Room — told Fox and Friends:”It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”Conway’s remark is in clear violation of the Office of Government Ethics ban on White House staff endorsing products or companies, or in any way using their public office for private gain. But don’t expect anybody in the Trump White House to hold her accountable. They’re all too busy cashing in themselves, and have been from the very beginning.Financial records show that one of the principal beneficiaries of the Trump campaign was Trump’s business empire, which, among other expenses, billed his campaign $5.6 million for use of his plane; $1.3 million for office rent; $432,000 for events at Mar-A-Lago; $544,000 for food and meeting rooms. For Trump, running for office was a money-making scam.Which continues, now that he’s in the White House. As Trump points out, conflict-of-interest rules that apply to every other federal employee do not apply to the president of the United States. Why? Because the framers never thought anybody would be crass enough to exploit the office for private profit. They didn’t count on Donald Trump.Unlike most other presidents, Republican and Democrat, Trump refused to divest himself of his business holdings. Instead, he transferred management of more than 300 companies to his sons, but not ownership — a plan that Walter Shaub, head of the Office of Government Ethics, denounced as “meaningless,” and “not meeting the standard that … every president of the past four decades has met.”Under his sweetheart plan, President Trump continues to profit from every business transaction involving every Trump product — from hotels and office buildings to steaks, bottled water, magazines, ties, wine, clothing, bedding, lamps, and fragrance — worldwide. Meanwhile, his son Eric, with Secret Service protection paid for by American taxpayers, flies around the world making new business deals. How sweet it is.But Trump and his sons and daughter aren’t the only family members who see the White House as a money-making opportunity. So, apparently, does first lady Melania Trump. In a lawsuit filed against the Daily Mail for falsely alleging she’d once worked as an escort, Trump seeks $150 million, not just for any damage to her reputation, but for the loss of a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” while first lady of the United States, to profit from her brand.Among products the first lady hopes to offer, according to papers filed by attorney Charles Harder, are: apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance.In 2000, 15 years before he actually became a candidate, Donald Trump bragged to Fortune magazine: “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” That’s one goal he’s already accomplished — for his entire family. They will leave Washington even wealthier than they are today. And the rest of us will be that much poorer.Bill Press is host of a nationally-syndicated radio show, CNN political analyst and author.
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