The Trump Administration Is a Family Affair

The president’s first overseas trip makes it clearer than ever.

It’s no secret that the Trump family and the Trump administration overlap. (Which works out, since Donald Trump is clearly very bad at keeping secrets.)

It’s no surprise either — during his campaign, Trump was candid about the fact that he didn’t know, or care, about the proper way to separate himself from his family business if he were elected president. His plans for separating politics from business upon becoming president were deemed “wholly inadequate” by the federal ethics chief. In Trumpese, that apparently translates to “good enough.”
Since then, family, business and the White House have fused to form an indistinguishable mush that’s part Trump, part Kushner and part hair gel. And Ivanka Trump has gone from opting out of a formal role in her father’s administration to moving into an office in the White House.
Ivanka’s husband, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, has received a long list of homework assignments from his father-in-law, all of which he will manage while maintaining control of 90% of his real estate holdings. (Many of his investments also happen to be held by secretive shell companies, which doesn’t exactly allay fears that his business interests could affect his decision-making.)
For his part, Trump Organization trustee Donald Trump Jr. has been spotted in Montana stumping for Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte — a man so fully on board the Trump train that he’s actually coopted Donald Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” slogan for his campaign. (Gianforte is also the man who, this past week, assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.)

Now, the Trump clan is accompanying the president on his first trip overseas, which has essentially turned this into a family vacation. Hell, just take a gander at how happy the whole gang looked when they got to meet the pope:

In addition to hanging at the Vatican, of course, the crew visited Saudi Arabia just in time to sign an $110 billion arms deal with the country’s government. The man who made the deal happen was, of course, Kushner. After all, who needs the oversight and paperwork of a government bureaucracy when you can just iron things out with the president’s son-in-law?

Lest you think that the rest of the Trump family left empty-handed, Saudi Arabia and the neighboring United Arab Emirates took advantage of the trip to donate $100 million to a women’s entrepreneurship fund run by the World Bank and devised by — wait for it — Ivanka Trump. It’s probably worth noting, as NPR does, that this is pretty much exactly the kind of thing that Donald Trump criticized the Clinton Foundation for doing.

Rounding out these appearances of impropriety, Ivanka’s brother Donald Jr. happened to be in the neighborhood a few days earlier. He was meeting with Emirati billionaire Hussain Sajwani, even though the president claimed in January that the Trump Organization wouldn’t pursue any new business overseas during his term. So maybe Don Jr. and Sajwani are just friends.

But we won’t blame you if you have your doubts.