Associated Press: Trump business ethics pledges left plenty room for profiting
Among the many promises Donald Trump made a year ago to assure people he wouldn't profit off his presidency, one stood out for its boldness: a pledge to donate the profits from any foreign governments staying in his namesake hotels to the U.S. Treasury. Today, after a year in which groups associated with Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Kuwait have booked rooms, hosted events and spent thousands of dollars at the president's hotel in Washington, no such payments to the Treasury have been made. Trump officials, who have openly questioned how closely they should scrutinize their guests, initially pledged to make a payment at the end of 2017 and now say they would have "information to share" near the end of next month.
"These are meaningless lines being drawn," said Larry Noble, general counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based public interest group. "The point is, they're interacting with foreign businesses and foreign governments by doing that. So virtually all the potential conflicts you get with a new business you get with an expanding business." "Meaningless," is how Walter Shaub, then the chief federal ethics official, described the promises soon after Trump's lawyer announced them at a news conference last year.