A Marine Corps reserve unit in West Palm Beach, Florida, that was planning to host a 700-person annual gala at Mar-a-Lago has reversed course, the Miami Herald reports, in response to growing criticism of government and military officials officials frequenting President Donald Trump’s businesses. Marines from the 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, which coordinates overseas air support for ground forces, were set to host the 244th anniversary of the Marine Corps’ founding at the Trump-owned club. The event is part of the tradition of Marine Corps balls that are held annually to commemorate the Nov. 10 founding of the corps. The formal events are typically paid for by private donations, rather than public funds. Even still, the conflict of interest is clear: The president is quite literally profiting not only from the single event, but the presidency as a whole—in real time.
Trump and his apologists—a growing list of Republicans—like to imply that, well, they had to host their annual dinner somewhere, right? The vice president had to sleep somewhere, what’s wrong with it being a Trump hotel 150 miles away? If it’s not already a no-brainer that it’s inappropriate for the Marine Corps—despite their selfless service—to host galas at Trump properties, a Marine involved in the planning of the event sums it up perfectly.
“We chose Mar-a-Lago because we had a unique opportunity to have our birthday ball at the venue of a sitting president, the part-time home of a sitting president,” the officer involved in the event’s planning told the Miami Herald. “We’re an apolitical organization but that’s our commander in chief. It would have been an honor. The whole purpose of this is for the junior guys. Can you imagine walking into Mar-a-Lago with your girlfriend on your arm? Can you imagine what that does for the heart of a young warrior?”
Can you even imagine the unique opportunity that is the honor of walking into the commander in chief’s venue with your girlfriend on your arm? Trump couldn’t have said it better himself.