Donald Trump's bid to win a second term as president was well underway before his first term even began. Ahead of his Inauguration Day, Trump's 2020 campaign already had a campaign office, campaign staff, and even an official slogan. The campaign apparatus has hosted a series of campaign rallies -- three-and-a-half years early -- including one last night in Iowa.
And like every modern campaign, Trump's re-election effort is eager to fill its campaign coffers. The New York Times reported a couple of months ago that the Republican "is raising money toward a bid for a second term earlier than any incumbent president in recent history, pulling in tens of millions of dollars in the months after his election and through his inauguration."
But what's amazing about this isn't just the fact that Trump is scrambling for campaign cash; it's also where he's choosing to do so. The Associated Press reported late yesterday on the president headlining a D.C.-fundraiser at his own hotel.
Trump can see the Trump International Hotel from the White House lawn, making it a premier and convenient location for the June 28 major-donor event, his campaign director Michael Glassner said.But the choice also raises ethics questions, according to conflict of interest attorneys who have been critical of Trump's decision not to cut financial ties with his global business empire.
Norm Eisen, the Obama White House's chief ethics attorney, told the AP that Trump is "becoming more and more brazen in his efforts to monetize the presidency."
The audacity is striking. The president is no doubt aware of the ongoing litigation surrounding the Trump International Hotel, which he still owns, and which welcomes foreign officials as guests, constitutional limits notwithstanding.
It's against this backdrop that Team Trump could've chosen any venue for its latest fundraising event. The president and his staff chose Trump's controversial hotel, offering him an opportunity to promote one of his many properties and indirectly profit while accepting contributions from donors.
And because this president's casual disinterest in ethical and legal limits has become so common, stories like these no longer cause much of a stir: much of the political world hardly raises an eyebrow because Trump's alleged improprieties are about as common as the sunrise.