At his first post-election press conference, where he revealed a wholly insufficient plan to avoid his massive conflicts of interest due to his business holdings, President-elect Donald Trump promised no new international deals. But, announcing an expansion of a project in Scotland, Trump's team says it does not count, citing yet another loophole.
Team Trump loves ethics loopholes, like the one it claims exists to allow Donald Trump to employ his son-in-law as an advisor, despite a federal anti-nepotism statute.
Now, it has remarkably found yet another ethics loophole, to justify announcing the expansion of Trump's Scottish golf resort, mere days after having promised there would be no new international deals struck by the Trump Organization.
Trump officials said the plans for the Trump International Golf Course Scotland in Aberdeenshire – likely to immediately involve extending its boutique hotel and building a second 18-hole golf course – did not conflict with his promise not to pursue new or “pending” deals outside the US.
“Implementing future phasing of existing properties does not constitute a new transaction so we intend to proceed,” a Trump Organization spokeswoman told the Guardian.
The expansion plans could see the resort grow substantially, with a new 450-room five-star hotel, timeshare complex and private housing estate. This would greatly increase the value to the Trump Organization of an investment on which Trump originally boasted he would spend up to £1bn.
If you parse that carefully, it essentially means that deals arising from any existing part of his business do not count, so long as someone from the organization is willing to say the deal was in the works up until Inauguration Day.
That is one big loophole.
In related news: Trump has also appointed his business partner Steven Roth, CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, to oversee his new council on infrastructure.
In a statement on the appointment, DNC senior adviser Zac Petkanas noted that Trump "has invited one of his business partners to play a major role in his government" after "promising a complete separation from his business" less than a week ago.
Petkanas added: "This confirms that Donald Trump’s plan to address his enormous conflicts of interests is one big joke on the American people."
That about sums it up.