President Donald Trump is enjoying a 10-day Christmas break in a familiar location: a place that he owns and where other people can pay to stay. Overall, the commander in chief has spent more than 100 days at one of his company’s properties, meaning “nearly one-third of the days he has been in office,” according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Trump’s travels.
His time has been pretty evenly split between his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., where he spent a total of 40 days, according to a CNN count, and Mar-a-Lago, his luxury Florida resort where he is spending Christmas. Trump visited his golf club in Northern Virginia 23 times while his hotel that is only a few blocks from the White House saw only five visits from the commander in chief. He has also spent several days at Trump Tower in New York and even stopped by the Trump hotel in Waikiki during a brief stop in Hawaii in November.
Although all presidents take vacations, Trump’s case is unique because of the ethical questions surrounding his trips. The Wall Street Journal explains:
Mr. Trump’s is an unusual case of presidential travel, since he spends much of his time away from the White House at places that he owns but where other guests pay to stay. Other presidents have traveled frequently to spend time at their own homes, such as President George W. Bush to his Texas ranch, or his father to Kennebunk, Maine. Others have vacationed at Camp David, the White House retreat in Maryland, or rented accommodations, as President Barack Obama did in Hawaii.
As a businessman who made his fortune in residential and commercial real estate, Mr. Trump’s considerations are more complicated because his visits can create the appearance of a conflict of interest in highlighting a Trump property—from which Mr. Trump draws revenue—on a visit paid for by taxpayer dollars, ethics experts say.
“George W. Bush went to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, a lot, but it’s not like you could rent the bedroom next to his,” said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the transparency advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Trump’s trips often involve his favorite pastime: playing golf. As of Christmas Eve, Trump played golf a total of 85 times, whether at one of his own properties or elsewhere. All those rounds of golf have cost the taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars.”
Before he moved into the White House, Trump was a big fan of criticizing his predecessor for the amount of time he spent on the golf course. “Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf,” Trump wrote in 2014. “Worse than Carter.”
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