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Trump and Clarence Thomas Financial Disclosures Prove U.S. Is Officially a Kleptocracy

Courtesy of Pam Martens

President Donald Trump Berates the Media in a Hastily Called Press Conference on February 16, 2017

President Donald Trump Berates the Media in a Hastily Called Press Conference on February 16, 2017

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a kleptocracy is “a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people.” Stealing can also be interpreted as a public official depriving citizens of their right to honest services, as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1346.

Two men serving in the highest offices of the United States, one man black and one man white, are now the poster children for a government that more closely resembles a kleptocracy than a democracy. The two men also have three other things in common: they are both shameless in flaunting their disregard for conflicts of interest; their previous Federal financial disclosure reports contained serious falsehoods; and neither has been removed from their high office.

Last week Donald Trump, the President of the United States, released his financial disclosure form for calendar year 2017. It showed that the President had not reported a $130,000 liability he owed in 2016 to reimburse his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the hush money payment he made in 2016 to porn star Stormy Daniels, who has alleged a sexual affair with Trump. Only after much publicity about the failure to report the payment was the reimbursement of the liability disclosed on this year’s financial disclosure report.

Equally alarming, Trump’s 2017 financial disclosure report indicates that the President of the United States still holds ownership interests in 565 corporations and LLCs, many of which benefit from foreign money. Unlike previous presidents who sold their business interests or put them in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest, Trump flagrantly retains these massive ownership stakes.

At Trump International Hotels Management, revenues went from less than $3 million in 2016 to over $17 million in 2017 when Trump occupied the Oval Office. The Trump Old Post Office LLC which holds the license for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. reported over $40 million in revenue in 2017, its first full year of operation. The hotel has benefited from foreign dignitaries potentially currying favor with the President of the United States by paying large sums for themselves and their entourage to stay at the hotel.

NBC reports that since Trump took office on January 20, 2017 “Kuwait has twice held its annual ‘National Day’ celebration” at the Trump International Hotel in D.C.; Bahrain has held a similar celebration at the hotel; a public relations firm working for Saudi Arabia has stayed there; and the government of the Philippines is planning an Independence Day celebration there in June as the country pushes for a free-trade agreement with the U.S.

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