During a briefing on Friday, Donald Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, wanted to tell a feel-good story of where the president had decided to donate his salary this quarter. So she held up the $100,000 check that she said Trump would donate to the Department of Health and Human Services to “support the efforts being undertaken to confront, contain and combat the coronavirus.” In the process, she displayed the president’s private bank account and routing numbers.
The check that McEnany held up “appeared to be a real check from Capital One, complete with the relevant details,” notes the New York Times. An administration official said that mock checks were not used at the briefing and a spokesman pushed back against the Times for even questioning whether the details that were broadcast were authentic. “Today his salary went to help advance new therapies to treat this virus, but leave it to the media to find a shameful reason not to simply report the facts, focusing instead on whether the check is real or not,” a White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said in a statement.
That information could be used to withdraw or deposit money from an account and could also help hack an account. Experts say that any bank would likely have extra protections around such a high profile account but that doesn’t mean the private details should be flashed around. “This is one of those situations where setting the example is very important,” Eva Velasquez, the president and chief executive of the Identity Theft Resource Center, said. “It’s very important for your average person to understand this is not a best practice.”
The Trump administration has long made a point of highlighting how Trump donates his salary every quarter, fulfilling a campaign promise. But as many have pointed out, Trump makes plenty of money during his presidency considering he refused to divest from his business interests. “President Trump’s decision not to divest his businesses netted him $434 million in personal revenue in 2018 alone—the last year for which data is available,” Robert Maguire, research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, tweeted in March. “That’s a thousand times more than his presidential salary.” Plus, the donation to the HHS comes as his administration had previously called for a cut in the agency’s budget. “Essentially, Trump is actively working to dismantle HHS and other government agencies that respond to outbreaks like the coronavirus while falsely posturing as their generous benefactor,” Vox pointed out earlier this year.
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