Donald Trump was paid off when Turkish Airlines contracted his golf course to host an event. Then, Trump praised Turkey's dictator, Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the United Nations.
While Donald Trump was glad-handing with Turkish dictator Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan at the United Nations, giving the blessing of the United States to his repressive regime, Trump was also cashing checks written from the bank account of that country, and depositing them in his personal bank account.
The Sunlight Foundation reports that Turkish Airlines held a secret event at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18. Neither the club nor the airline promoted or disclosed the event on their websites or social media accounts as they usually do with other events. Only one photo of the outing surfaced.
Trump purchased the golf course in 2009 when the previous owner defaulted on loans during the recession. He has traveled to the venue, at taxpayer expense, even as he refuses to divest from his ownership stake or place it into a blind trust. Money spent at the course goes into Trump's personal accounts.
As Trump, through his company, was taking Turkey's cash, he was apologizing to Erdoğan, whose private security beat up protesters in D.C.
Trump has a reputation for never apologizing to anyone for anything. On Sunday, in an interview with "60 Minutes," Sen. John McCain said Trump had never apologized for saying McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam, and Trump said, during the presidential campaign, "I like people who weren't captured."
Trump did apologize to Turkey's brutal dictator, though. Then, at the United Nations meeting last week, Trump embarrassed the country by asserting that "we have a great friendship" with the rogue nation and hailed the dictator for receiving "high marks."
In fact, the United States broke from the Western consensus when Trump praised Erdoğan after the passage of a restrictive referendum that gave him more power. While Trump was congratulatory, leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned that the bill had divided the nation.
In addition to his hotels, the golf course is another way for foreign entities and domestic lobbyists to wield influence over his administration. They represent a pipeline of cash constantly flowing towards Trump, even as he uses his office to make decisions affecting those same organizations and nations.
The arrangement is believed by many to be a violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause, which bans presidents from accepting gifts and payments from foreign powers.
The Sunlight Foundation notes, "If any other First Family had conflict like this and took money from private businesses while in office, we’d expect our State Department and Justice Department to warn American companies about heightened corruption risk from operation in that country."
We would expect that, but we would also expect that the president was not being paid to do public relations for a foreign power. Under Trump, that is no longer a valid expectation.