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Trump's family takes new steps to blur ethical boundaries

The heads of the president's private-sector enterprise - his adult sons - are intervening in politics, urging his allies to do more to "help" the president.
Image: YEAR IN FOCUS - NEWS (1 of a set of 85) Republican National Convention: Day Two
Donald Trump Jr. (L), along with Ivanka Trump (C) and Eric Trump (R), in Cleveland, OH July 19.

Donald Trump's adult sons already have a job: they're responsible for running their father's business, which he still owns and profits from, during his time as president. The ethical implications of this arrangement are already a mess without precedent in American history.

And as the Washington Post reported the other day, the situation keeps getting messier.

Amid mounting questions at the White House about Russia, three prominent members of President Trump's family -- his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Eric's wife, Lara -- have ramped up their engagement with the Republican Party's national political operation, having met privately with GOP leaders to share their concerns and outlook.Their most recent effort came Thursday, when the president's eldest sons and Lara Trump visited the Republican National Committee's headquarters in Washington.... Their appearance at the RNC irked at least two prominent Republicans who were briefed on the session, who wondered whether it was appropriate for the president's sons, who run the Trump family real estate business, to be highly involved in discussing the party's strategy and resources.

The meeting, according to the report, lasted "about two hours," and participants included, among others, RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, RNC chief of staff Sara Armstrong, and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, who now advises a pro-Trump nonprofit group.

The president's adult sons reportedly pressed Republican officials at the gathering to do more to "help reignite [Trump's] political base."

The ethical controversies with this family are so common, they effectively serve as background noise that the political world hardly notices anymore, but that's a shame, because his dynamic is tough to defend. Put aside the family connections for a moment and consider the story at face value: the heads of the president's private-sector enterprise are intervening in politics, urging his allies to do more to "help" the president.

It's bad enough that the firewalls that are supposed to exist have already broken down. Two months ago, after saying he doesn't discuss business with his father, Eric Trump conceded he intends to go over quarterly reports from the Trump Organization with the president, exploring "profitability reports and stuff like that."

And now it's just a little worse, with the Trumps blurring the ethical lines further out of existence.