Well, this does look a bit… funky.
CNN’s Jake Tapper took exception today to a post on the State Department’s “Share America” website that appeared to promote Mar-a-Lago.
“Well, they’re just shamelessly promoting his products on U.S. government, taxpayer-financed websites. And we know that Mar-a-Lago has benefited from President Trump being elected president,” Tapper said on CNN’s “The Lead.”
The U.S. Embassy in London published a blog post touting Trump’s exclusive Palm Beach, Fla., resort as a place that has “become well known as the President frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders.”
The post was actually put up on April 4, but apparently, somebody just noticed it and found it questionable.
The website is supposed to share “compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics.”
I suppose an argument could be made for Mar-a-Lago’s history and how now that it’s being used by a U.S. president, it could be a nice conversation starter.
The resort was built in the late 1920s by an heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post, and willed to the U.S. government in 1973. It was her desire to see the resort used for hosting foreign dignitaries, apparently.
The government returned the property to the estate of Post and Trump bought it in 1985, turning it into a luxury resort of the rich and richer.
The problem is an ethical one. Again.
Trump doubled the membership fee to the club ($200,000) when he won the presidency, so he’s benefiting from the renewed interest in the club, especially from the rich and affluent who want to be able to say they spend their weekend hob-knobbing with the POTUS.
“Now we are learning that the State Department promoted the property and still is promoting the property on websites describing it as, ‘the winter White House, and a prominent place where President Trump hosts foreign leaders,’ ” Tapper said.
Trump has hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a host of American lawmakers at the resort, since becoming president.
Whatever the intentions of the State Department, this does nothing to quell the concerns of those who believe Trump has not done enough to divest himself from his businesses, and by advertising Mar-a-Lago abroad, it could present an issue where foreign dignitaries try to buy access to the president by buying memberships to the club.
The acting spokesman for the State Department, Mark Toner, has said he had no idea the post was on the website.