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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, January 22, 2018

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Did Trump boost his business as President of America?

Businessman-turned-politician Donald Trump

Share on Facebook December 23, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 415

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - So far, the businessman-turned-politician Donald Trump has spent 106 days visiting one his properties as the President of the United States. 

As his first year in power came to a close, analysts were quick to draw out facts of the time the former celebrity and real estate tycoon has spent away from the Oval Office and in specific at one of the structures bearing his name.

The question critics are raising is whether Trump, as President, boosted his private businesses by making frequent visits to properties that bear the Trump name?

According to analysts, with Trump heading out of Washington, for a prolonged visit at Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Southern Florida on Friday, he will mark the 106th day that he has visited one of his properties as President.

He would be taking a host of White House aides, an abundance of Secret Service agents and others there too.

Critics allege that Trump’s frequent visits to his own properties boost the bottom line at The Trump Organization and give his empire an unfair business advantage.

Earlier this year, before taking office, Trump transferred his business holdings to a trust run by his sons, but stopped short of selling off his holdings. 

According to an analysis released by CNN, to date, Trump has spent 34 days at Mar-A-Lago as President, including seven weekends in January, February and March. 

While his visits to Mar-A-Lago have been amongst the most controversial visits over the year, it has not been his most frequently visited spot.

Over the summer as Florida sweltered, Trump ventured north to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

So far, Trump has spent a total of 40 days at the club, including a number of work filled days in August when Trump held meetings with cabinet officials and called world leaders.

Trump has also visited the Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia 23 times and Trump International Hotel just blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue five times so far during his presidency.

Further, on his way to Asia in November, the President also stopped by the Trump International Hotel Waikiki during a brief stop in Hawaii.

While all presidents take vacations, Trump’s trips to his favorite spots across the country have driven special scrutiny since he slammed former President Barack Obama for playing golf while running the country several times. 

So far, Trump has spent over 80 days at one of his golf courses.

According to the President’s critics, the stops are a clear violation of the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution and give each Trump business a signature competitive advantage: The presidential seal of approval. 

Norm Eisen, the chair of the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said, "The President's incessant exploitation of his office to promote his properties is unprecedented in American history.”

Other groups along with Eisen's organization had sued Trump for a log of visitors to Mar-A-Lago and over violating the Emoluments Clause with his hotel in Washington. 

However, on Thursday, a federal judge dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs lacked standing, but did not rule on the merits of their complaint.

According to reports, in certain Republican circles, being a member of his club means something important for the President. 

Being a member of the Trump club, or a guest at his hotel or a linksman at one of his golf courses is considered a status symbol.

Further, reports pointed out that the Trump presidency has also changed the kind of clientele at Trump's properties. 

Mar-A-Lago, which was once known as the premiere venue for fundraisers and philanthropic events, saw at least 15 organizations cancel on them during the Trump presidency.

These have included groups like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society. 

An October 2016 Government Accountability Office report on a trip President Barack Obama took in 2013 noted that each of Trump’s trip to his Mar-a-Lago, the 126-room, a 110,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach reportedly costs $3 million.

Politico reported earlier this year that Obama’s 2013 trip, including a stop in Palm Beach, Florida, cost $3.6 million, $3.2 million of which was the cost of aircraft.

It noted that Air Force One costs $206,337 an hour to operate, and the D.C. to Palm Beach flight takes about two hours. 

That would mean that the round-trip costs $824,000.

The remaining cost was for the five other planes and four helicopters, that were part of Obama’s overall team during the 2013 trip. 

According to the GAO report, Secret Service staffing for the same trip came up to $180,000. 

And the 89th Airlift Wing ran up a tab of $1.3 million, including the costs of operating Air Force One. 

The overall figure, is still about the $3 million estimated in most reports.

When George Howard Bush was the president, the security cover used to cost around $2 million a year for the U.S. Coast Guard as they had to station boats off the coast of his Kennebunkport, Maine estate.

By February, his second month in power, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago had come to be known as the Winter White House and reports then estimated that some $10 million has been spent in travel, security and more in connection with Trump's first three trips to the Florida resort.

After Trump spent a series of weekends at Mar-A-Lago earlier this year, a group of Democratic senators asked the GAO to review security and site-related travel expenses to Trump's visits.

That probe is still underway and GAO spokesman Charles Young said, "The work is underway and should be completed and released sometime this spring. We don't release any info on what we are finding before the work is completed."

His visits at his own golf courses now reportedly constitute 20 percent his presidency spent there.

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