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COLUMN: Trump must divest from Mar-a-Lago

During Barack Obama’s presidency, President Trump endlessly ridiculed him both for the trips he took and the rounds of golf he played. In January 2012, Trump tweeted, “President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars — Unbelievable!”

Now Trump is surpassing Obama in time spent away from the White House. As of April 16, he’s spent 25 days on weekend trips compared to Obama’s 14 during the same period of his first term according to NBC. That’s equivalent to seven out of the 13 weekends he’s been in office.

To commemorate this hypocrisy, the Center for American Progress Action Fund has launched a new website, aptly titled “Is Trump at Mar-a-Lago?” The website either has a “yes” or a “no” displayed in large letters that answers the question the website’s title poses.

Mar-a-Lago is one of Trump’s commercially-owned resorts in Florida, and he has now spent 28 percent of his time as president either there or traveling to or from there, reports NBC News.

There are several issues with Trump’s frequent vacationing.

First, as I pointed out above, the hypocrisy present here is astonishing. Throughout his campaign, he promised he wouldn’t spend his time teeing off. “I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf,” he said during his campaign.

Now, of course, he’s doing just that. According to Politico, he played 18 rounds with professional golfer Rory McIlroy 

There’s nothing wrong with the president relaxing every so often. Heck, anyone in that office should take a load off once in awhile. But that Trump has the gall to vacation frequently while having previously eviscerated Obama for doing so is infuriating.

That’s not even the worst thing about all of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visits, though. His visits raise ethical concerns because Mar-a-Lago is his privately owned commercial property.

As Steve Schooner, a professor at George Washington Law School said, “It's just another example of his consistent efforts to exploit public office for private gain. He's using his official office and the fact that people have to travel with him, meet him, and follow him to promote his commercial enterprise, in this case his privately owned club."

Every time he visits his resort, we hear about it on the news. Although Trump put his financial holdings in a trust, he hasn’t divested from them. So he’s still profiting from the free advertising Mar-a-Lago.

It’s important to keep things in perspective and acknowledge that as president Trump has a right to take a trip occasionally just as his predecessors did.

It just might not sting as much if he hadn’t criticized Obama so much for doing the same and if he weren’t financially benefiting from visiting Mar-a-Lago every other weekend, but I think it’s no secret that Trump is out for himself, not the American people.

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