President Donald Trump, the first enthusiastically tweeting president, follows just 41 accounts on Twitter — and 10 of them belong either to his own businesses or to his adult children who are running them.
Trump promised a total separation between his businesses and his presidency. But he’s fallen far short of the blind trust ethics experts recommend. Rather than sell his businesses and real estate and have an independent adviser reinvest the proceeds, he simply handed over control to his two adult sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The Trump Organization’s ethics adviser is a longtime Republican lawyer with a history of defending corporations. The president’s arrangement wouldn’t be acceptable for Cabinet members, who are required by law to divest their financial holdings or put them in a blind trust.
There might not be a better indicator of just how far from blind this arrangement is than Trump’s Twitter timeline (which is embedded in full at the bottom of this article.) In between tweets from the Drudge Report and Ann Coulter, Trump is seeing tweets about the new Trump golf course in Dubai:
"It's an impressive place, expect the approval rating for the new @TrumpDubai course to hover near 100%." @Golf_Com pic.twitter.com/zdRjsrmEX4— Trump Golf (@TrumpGolf) February 3, 2017
And the menu at the Trump hotel in Waikiki:
Indulge in our 3 course dinner @ Wai'olu Ocean View Lounge: Edamame Hummus, Seared Foie Gras, Black Truffle Risotto & Passion Stack Cake. pic.twitter.com/vQ58N0kbvF— Trump Waikiki (@TrumpWaikiki) January 24, 2017
And the golf course renovations in Palm Beach:
Talk about a transformation! Here's a shot of the 17th hole at @TrumpPalmBeach #BeforeAndAfter extensive renovations pic.twitter.com/itAutiotO7— Trump Organization (@Trump) January 30, 2017
And — from an account he doesn’t follow but was retweeted by his son Eric — the triumphs of Trump wine:
.@WineJudging awards Double Gold to #Sparkling Reserve! LIKE/RT to congratulate our Winemaker, Jonathan Wheeler. #Wine #VAwine pic.twitter.com/5k0x2n6MEc— Trump Winery (@trumpwinery) February 4, 2017
None of the tweets are particularly revelatory (or even very interesting). But the fact that Trump still sees them shows how little he’s bothering to even feign distance from his businesses while he’s in the White House. One of the fears about Trump’s conflicts of interest is that his businesses won’t just influence him consciously but subconsciously — that knowing he has money at stake will distort his policymaking and decisions, even if there’s no obvious, immediate monetary benefit.
There are few better illustrations of that subconscious benefit than that it stares him in the face every time he opens Twitter.