6 Times Trump Inappropriately Promoted His Businesses

When Donald Trump first threw his MAGA hat into the ring to run for president, ethics lawyers were concerned that the man is so intertwined with his businesses and brand that there was no way he could avoid bringing serious conflicts of interest. Some have gone so far as to say that his continued involvement with his financial investments has been “unconstitutional.”

One would like to think that Trump might give extra consideration to avoiding pointing out his own conflicts of interest in an effort to reassure the American people that his political decisions are not financially motivated. Alas, that’s not how Trump has handled it.

In actuality, on a number of occasions, Trump has used his platform to inappropriately plug his own products and properties. Here are some examples of these ethically problematic moments:

1. His Hotel

At a presidential debate, Trump diverted from answering a question about his tax returns to instead talk about a newly opened hotel in Washington, DC.

“We’re just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next to the White House – so if I don’t get there one way, I’m going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another,” he said. “[I’m] under budget, ahead of schedule, saved tremendous money.”

It’s not entirely clear why this anecdote was relevant to the question at hand let alone worthy of being discussed at a presidential debate, but he did manage to let people know where they can stay when they’re in the nation’s capital.

2. Extensive Products with the Trump Name

After winning primaries in a few states in March, Trump celebrated by having a press conference… where he promoted various products he’s lent his name to. The then-Republican frontrunner showed off Trump steaks, a Trump magazine, Trump University, Trump water and Trump wine. NPR said it looked less like a political event and more like the Home Shopping Network.

The damned thing was that most of the products he hawked to television viewers weren’t actually still in production anymore. He was highlighting business “successes” that customers couldn’t actually buy. That might make his infomercial less inappropriate overall, but it makes it no less embarrassing.

3. The Trump Building

In Trump’s first speech to the United Nations, Trump took some time to reference the nearby Trump World Tower to a crowd of international delegates who had no use for this information.

“I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you,” he said. “It was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project.”

For better or worse, this moment of self-promotion has pretty much been forgotten, overshadowed by Trump threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and “Rocket Man” – Trump’s nickname for Kim Jong Un.

4. “His” Winery

When the country tuned in to see the president’s response to the racist demonstrations and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, Americans were shocked to here him blame “both sides“ and totally balk at condemning hate groups like neo-Nazis and the KKK.

On his way out of that cringe-worthy press conference, he stopped to inform reporters, “I own a house in Charlottesville.”  He clarified that he meant the local winery, which he bragged was one of the largest wineries in the country.

Not only was this moment – when the nation was devastated and frightened by violent white supremacy – a terrible time to plug his business, it turns out that Trump very much does not own that property – nor is it even close to being one of the largest wineries.

5. Trump’s Properties

During the period between the election and Trump’s inauguration, the administration’s transition team uploaded an interesting biography to the president-elect’s official political website. That bio mainly lists his business accomplishments, while promoting properties with his name attached like Trump Plaza, Trump Palace and Trump Tower. His golf courses also received a shout out.

While it is unusual for a .gov website to promote products and brands in this fashion, it’s worth mentioning that no other presidents have absolutely zero political experience to list on their bio page. Still, that’s not an excuse to use a government webpage to promote Trump’s personal brand.

6. His Golf Course

No matter how many times he’s been rebuked by colleagues and the press for promoting his businesses, he continues anyway. Most recently, on a trip to South Korea, Trump couldn’t help but go there in a political speech to the National Assembly.

“Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth,” said Trump. “In fact – and you know what I’m going to say – the Women’s U.S. Open was held this year at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer.”

Trump is right about one thing – most of us probably did know what he was going to say since he can’t seem to stop himself from name-checking his properties. Knowing it’s coming and it being acceptable behavior from a president are two different things, though.

Photo Credit: Bin im Garten


Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

warped man, ty

Danuta W
Danuta W3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Karin Hanson
Karin Hanson3 months ago

All the profit $$$ that comes from these were supposed to, in his own words, "go right into the TREASURY"...... obviously, he was referring to his own!!

Beryl L
Beryl Ludwig3 months ago

This doesn't surprise me at all.
Thank you for the story

Lorraine A
Lorraine A3 months ago

and we are surprised??? why????

Jacki Hileman
Jacki Hileman3 months ago

what ever happened to Conflict of Interest ???

Winn A
Winn A3 months ago

He's pond scumb

Stephanie s
Stephanie s3 months ago

Despicable man.

Clare O
Clare O'Beara3 months ago

In about ten yeas there will be enormous corruption hearings in USA,.

Clare O
Clare O'Beara3 months ago

I believe he makes the Secret Service pay for a suite in his building, so they moved out and now guard him from a van parked outside.