This Week in Conflicts: Wait Continues for Trump’s Taxes and Department of Defense is Spending Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars at Trump-branded Properties


President Donald J. Trump is greeted by Maj. Gen. John K. McMullen, Air Combat Command vice commander, Col. Caroline Miller, 633rd Air Base Wing commander, and Col. Peter Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 2, 2017. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Areca T. Bell)

This week, the wait continues for House Democrats requesting access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the president’s sister retires as a federal judge amid an ongoing investigation and CNN totals the spending by the Department of Defense at Trump-branded properties.

Donald Trump wearing a Make America Great Again cap during his 2016 campaign. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Gage Skidmore)

Request for Trump’s Taxes

President Trump’s tax returns have not been released yet and the president says voters don’t care about seeing them.

In a letter, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Treasury is still reviewing the request for President Trump’s taxes due to “serious issues” about whether the request is proper, NBC News reports.

“The legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power,” Mnuchin wrote.

House Democrats have requested six years of President Trump’s tax returns. According to NBC News, he is also consulting with the Justice Department about the legality and constitutionality of the request for the president’s taxes. 

President Trump said he would “love” to release his tax returns but won’t do so “while under audit.”

As CNBC reports, the president says “people don’t care” about seeing them, but “polls show most voters want Trump to publicly release the information or support Democratic efforts to obtain the returns.”

Entrance to Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, New Jersey, August 9, 2017. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Ekem)

Defense Spending at Trump Properties

The total amount of money spent by the Defense Department at Trump-branded properties is more than $300,000, according to CNN.

“The transactions range from lodging expenses at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, to restaurant tabs at the Trump International Hotel in Washington to parking fees at the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami,” CNN reports.

CNN obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The news organization had previously reported that the total was $138,000-worth of charges between January 2017 and August 2017. The new documents showed charges of about $173,000 at Trump properties between October 2017 and November 2018.

Some government watchdogs argue these payments could violate the foreign emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause bans public officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress.

Maryanne Trump Barry is pictured at 1 min. and 46 seconds in the video “Criminal Trial Procedure” originally published by the United States Federal Judicial Center and uploaded to YouTube by PublicResourceOrg.

Trump’s Sister Retires as Federal Judge

The Associated Press is reporting that President Trump’s sister is retiring as a federal appellate judge in Philadelphia amid a civil misconduct inquiry.

A judicial panel began the review into Maryanne Trump Barry after four citizen complaints were filed in October. The complaints stemmed from a story in the New York Times that said President Trump and his siblings evaded inheritance taxes.

“The April 1 order said Barry’s voluntary Feb. 11 retirement ends the review stemming from claims based on the news article alleging that Barry may have committed misconduct relating to tax and financial transactions that occurred mostly in the 1980s and 1990s,” the Associated Press reports.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.