U.S. officials have revealed that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used a helicopter owned by President Donald Trump’s private company for a personal vacation at taxpayer’s expense, in an “unethical move” that “blurs the line between the White House and the family business,” Newsweek reported Wednesday.
The trip drew strong criticism from government and ethics watchdogs after Vanity Fair reported this week that the couple used a Trump Organization helicopter to fly to an exclusive ski resort in Vermont and that taxpayers footed the bill for the trip.
“Taxpayers are paying for Secret Service to accompany Ivanka and Jared on their trips and vacations,” former President George W. Bush’s ethics chief, Richard Painter told Newsweek. “Because they choose to use a Trump Organization aircraft, you’ve got the problem we’ve been dealing with all along: the government is paying the Trump Organization to protect the first family, when it shouldn’t be.”
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington shared that sentiment.
“Jared and Ivanka’s use of a Trump Organization helicopter for their personal use blurs the line between the White House and the family business,” said Virginia Canter, CREW’s executive branch ethics counsel who worked under former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, according to Newsweek. The move “reinforces the belief that they are unable and unwilling to put the public interest before the family business,” she added.
The couple’s vacation trip in Trump Organization aircrafts is a bigger issue than simply bad optics, Painter said Wednesday.
“This is fundamentally a tax law issue, and it may actually be part of what’s holding the president’s tax returns up in audit. The Trump family likes to use Trump Organization resources for profit,” he said. “But there’s a provision of the Constitution limiting the president’s salary by what is fixed by Congress. They can’t milk off the federal government while continuing to keep up their personal brand.”
As noted in the report, “the Trump family has displayed a continued pattern of mixing government and business affairs with little regard for potential legal or ethical violations, as CREW has noted. The president himself has continued visiting his own properties since taking office, spending at least 96 days of his presidency visiting Trump-branded clubs and hotels,” all paid for by taxpayers.
Yup. No president in history has imposed larger personal lifestyle costs on the taxpayer than Donald Trump.