The Washington Post’s David Farenthold reports that the Trump Foundation admitted that it engaged in “self-dealing” on tax forms, meaning that it used charitable funds for Trump’s personal use. Trump’s charity is under investigation by New York state, after Farenthold found that it was self-dealing and raising money without filing the necessary paperwork. Trump reportedly used the charity to pay legal fees and purchase items, including a painting of himself and a signed Tim Tebow football helmet.
Trump’s campaign was repeatedly hit over the summer and fall for doing similar stuff. Donations to his campaign largely went to ... Donald Trump. A lot of taxpayer money that pays for Secret Service details went to ... Donald Trump. A lot of Donald Trump’s campaign money went to ... Donald Trump. (To be fair, Trump forgave $50 million he had loaned to his campaign, though he also never came close to spending the $100 million of his own money that he promised to spend on the general election.)
And now, President-elect Trump is self-dealing, having reportedly used calls with foreign dignitaries to push for building permits in Argentina and wind farm restrictions in the U.K. Meanwhile, Trump’s Indian business partners are also reportedly trying to use their connection to Trump to benefit financially. At the same time, Trump has done absolutely nothing to separate his business interests from his work as president-elect. (Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who will supposedly be tasked with running his businesses while he is president, sat in on a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, a sign that these things will not be kept separate at all.)
In other words, self-dealing is just what Trump does. He leverages every advantage he has, whether it be a charity ostensibly designed to help others or a political office ostensibly designed to help others, to benefit himself. That was true in the decades leading up to his presidential campaign, it was true during the campaign itself, and it is still true while he puts together his administration. It will be true when he takes the oath of office in January, as well.