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Trump bribes protest

Last year, an artist projected "Pay Trump bribes here" and "emoluments welcome" onto the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. to protest President Donald Trump's refusal to divest from his businesses. (Photo: igorvolsky/Twitter)

'Shameless Self-Dealing': Report Shows President's Businesses Earned Millions From Spending by Trump Campaign

"Trump has raised the art of the self-deal to unprecedented heights, enriching himself at the expense of taxpayers."

Jessica Corbett

A new report out Monday details how President Donald Trump has financially benefited from his presidency, with federal agencies and political groups—including his own campaign—giving millions to the business empire from which he refuses to divest.

The Art of the (Self) Deal: Political and Taxpayer Spending at Trump’s Properties, published by the watchdog group Public Citizen, reveals that about 90 percent of the revenue, or $13.2 million, has come from Trump's own campaign—meaning his donors have directly boosted the president's profits.

"Donald Trump has degraded the presidency in countless ways," declared Alan Zibel, the report's author and research director of Public Citizen's Corporate Presidency Project. "One of the most shocking is his shameless self-dealing, as exemplified by the continued spending of campaign money and taxpayer dollars to Trump's own businesses, which he refused to fully divest."

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has doled out more than $717,000, while Trump Victory, a joint committee by Trump's campaign and the RNC, has spent nearly $595,000, according to public records. Zibel predicts that this spending trend will likely continue as the president ramps up his 2020 re-election campaign.

And Trump is not the only political candidate utilizing his properties. The report notes that "Republican candidates for various political offices have been holding numerous fundraisers at Trump properties—locations that were hardly hotbeds of political activity before Trump's foray into politics. (Combined political spending at Trump properties at 2013 and 2014 was less than $20,000.)"

The Defense Department and the Secret Service are the top spenders among federal agencies, though the General Services Administration, U.S. Embassies, and White House National Security Agency have also spent money on Trump businesses.

Although Public Citizen reviewed all available government records for the report, the group noted in a statement that "existing public records of federal agencies spending money at Trump properties are incomplete"—meaning, as McClatchy journalist Anita Kumar pointed out Monday, "the total amount is likely to be much more."

"Trump has raised the art of the self-deal to unprecedented heights, enriching himself at the expense of taxpayers," said Public Citizen's government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman. "This requires a legislative response." 

The new analysis—which builds on past reports from the group about conflicts of interest regarding Trump's properties—comes as Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is reportedly preparing to introduce a bill that would bar federal spending at properties owned by an elected politician if that politician would financially benefit.

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