The Trump Organization Is Selling Merchandise With Images of the White House

Experts have called the new products a conflict of interest.

The "Cherry Blossom Bar Soap Set"TrumpStore.com/Wayback Machine

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Several items currently on sale at the official Trump Store online and, reportedly, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, feature images of the White House, including two t-shirts, a mug, and a soap set.

The “Cherry Blossom Collection,” as news site 1100 Pennsylvania first pointed out, is “inspired by” the Trump International Hotel in DC, according to the Trump Organization. 

Experts were quick to note the ethical dilemma of potentially using the presidency for monetary gain. Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, an independent agency watchdog, tweeted Thursday that the product line is part of the president’s ongoing “conflicting financial interest” in running the hotel. 

https://twitter.com/waltshaub/status/1108755415481765889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1108755415481765889&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffpost.com%2Fentry%2Fdonald-trump-hotel-trump-store-white-house-ethics_n_5c95b983e4b057f7330b04e2

It’s also not the first time the Trump Organization has found itself in conflict-of-interest territory. As Mother Jones‘ David Corn wrote in January, foreign governments and corporations have been putting money into Trump’s pocket via his hotel chain throughout his presidency. Last year, the organization removed golf tee markers decorated with the presidential seal. As ProPublica reported at the time, replicating the seal for non-government business is a possible criminal offense.

The hotel is also part of a lawsuit filed by Washington DC and the state of Maryland, which argues that Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clauses when he took office while retaining ownership in the hotel.

By Sunday, Trump Store online appeared to have taken down the images of the White House on its soap set, selling for $22. It’s unclear if the new Trump merchandise breaks any laws, but it is certainly unprecedented.

“Never did we see President Obama, or President Bush, or President Clinton, or the other President Bush, or Reagan, creating merchandise to benefit themselves personally that profits off his name and position as the president of the United States,” Jessica Tillipman, a government ethics expert at George Washington University Law School, told The Independent.

“One would hope just like prior administrations you would have a president in office who doesn’t want to give people the appearance he’s profiting off his position.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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