In an interview Tuesday night with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, former governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said that president Donald Trump was running a “criminal enterprise out of the White House.” Dean also claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller was “on the track of” the president.
According to an article in the Hill, Dean and Melber were discussing the emoluments clause of the United States Constitution in reference to President Trump and his businesses. The emoluments clause is designed to protect the United States from “corrupting foreign influences” and states that members of the U.S. government cannot receive gifts, offices, or titles from foreign states without the consent of Congress.
During the segment, Dean emphasized that Trump was promoting signature properties such as Mar-a-Lago and the Trump International Golf Club by spending so much time vacationing at the locations, as well as allowing foreign governments to do business at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“This guy, I’ve said for a long time, I think he’s running a criminal enterprise out of the White House.”
According to an article in the Daily Mail, Wednesday marks the 86th day that Trump has spent golfing since becoming president and his 112th day spent vacationing at a Trump property this year. Common Dreams points out that Trump has spent more than three months on vacation this year, at a cost to the taxpayer of nearly $100 million.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) December 27, 2017
An article in Newsweek, talking about Dean’s interview with Melber, quotes Dean as saying that Trump’s promotion of his own businesses is “unprecedented and extraordinary” and that the Trump International Hotel has become “the place” for foreign dignitaries to stay when they come to Washington. The hotel is located just three blocks from the White House.
“It is pretty clear that he is shaking down foreign governments, or his staff is shaking down foreign governments, who have moved their events to his hotel in Washington at somebody’s request in order to get favors.”
According to a report in Time magazine, far from “draining the swamp” as Trump promised on the campaign trail, the president has refused to divest fully from his businesses like other presidents in the past. Trump has turned the day-to-day operations of his businesses over to his sons but still holds a 76.7 percent financial stake in the company that runs the hotel. Time points out that diplomats from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain frequent the hotel, racking up bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They mention that one VIP package that features a 6,300-square-foot townhouse was priced at $500,000.
Dean mentioned to Melber on the Tuesday night segment that in previous administrations, he had found the emoluments clause to be a “far-flung argument” but that the current president’s behavior had led him to change his mind. Dean says that Trump’s business conflicts of interest are likely now one of the lines of inquiry that Robert Mueller, who is handling the investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia, is investigating.