The Trump Organization, run by Donald Trump's sons, has found a new way to profit from the presidency: opening a chain of budget hotels in red states that voted for Trump.
The Trump Organization is expanding into a chain of hotels targeting areas of the country that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Trump is positioned to profit from the venture, since he refuses to divest or otherwise separate himself from Trump Organization business.
The expansion will be overseen by his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, who have previously admitted that they keep him apprised of the finances of Trump family business on a regular basis. There are no safeguards in place preventing Trump from making decisions and announcements from the Oval Office intended to affect the profits of the Trump Organization, personally enriching Trump and his family.
The Trumps announced the "American IDEA" chain, which the New York Times notes they launched with "a patriotic flair, echoing President Trump’s campaign slogan about putting America first and reflecting the organization’s promise to enter into new deals only in the United States."
The first hotels in the chain will be in Mississippi, where Trump won by 18 percent in 2016.
In an interview with ABC News, Eric Trump claimed that showing his father the financial books for the company that he still has ties to "doesn't blur the lines" in an unethical manner.
"You’re allowed to show that and remember, the president of the United States has zero conflicts of interests," he added. "Zero.”
The company filed for a trademark on the "American IDEA" brand in April 2016, as Trump continued to rack up primary victories and was only a month away from becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee with the slogan "Make America Great Again."
The Trump Organization's partner in the expansion is Suresh Chawla, co-owner of Chawla Hotels. Chawla donated $50,000 in 2016 to the RNC and Trump's campaign to help elect Trump. The Trumps are also working with Chawla on a higher-end hotel, named Scion.
A plan to open a new hotel in Dallas ran into roadblocks and has been scrapped. Dallas councilman Philip Kingston cited Trump's racist rhetoric and conflicts of interest as part of his objection to the property. He told Skift, "The president is a bad brand and we have to protect the Dallas brand."
He added, "We’re trying to sell ourselves internationally as a city that’s welcome and open for business travelers, new residents, innovators, young professionals and the president is an extremely bad brand. He’s a hateful and ignorant man who says things that are hurtful to the people I care about.”
While Trump won Texas overall, he was solidly defeated in Dallas by Hillary Clinton by a margin of 27 percent.