It diverges from the best practices

The Trumps still haven’t grasped the basic norm that they’re not supposed to use the presidency as an excellent chance to make money by selling access to their wonderful selves.

Last week, Eric Trump tried auctioning a coffee date with his sister Ivanka to raise money for a children’s hospital. Now, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. are named as part of a nonprofit venture that offered the chance to rub elbows with their father during inauguration weekend and go hunting or fishing with the sons in exchange for $1 million donations that would go to conservation charities.

It’s a wonder they haven’t set up a tent on 57th street selling lemonade and/or a chance to be grabbed by their daddy.

The two previous presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, expressly forbade immediate family members from such fundraising activities to avoid the appearance of selling access.

“We kept it simple. We did not allow the first family to be auctioned off, which is what is happening here,” said Norman Eisen, who served as White House chief ethics counselor as Obama took office in 2009.

Richard Painter, who filled a similar role for Bush, said the White House “strongly discouraged” the president, his family and top aides from fundraising for charities, and avoided altogether charity fundraising that came with any access to those people.

Both said that while there’s nothing explicitly illegal about the charity fundraising, it diverges from the best practices of previous White House administrations.

But the Trumps just don’t have that kind of finely-tuned perception of the sleazy. The sleazy is their oxygen, their soft pillow at night, their warm bath after a walk in the snow.

Painter and Eisen — the former White House counselors, who have been critical of Trump’s business entanglements and failure to publicly address them so far — said part of the problem with these charity fundraisers is that the president-elect has yet to explain which of his family members will be involved in the government and which will stay at the helm of his international business empire.

They praised the Trumps for making quick adjustments after seeing bad press about the fundraising but said that doesn’t eliminate the need for Trump to develop and follow hard-and-fast rules as previous presidents did.

“How many times are they going to have to stub their toe?” Eisen said. “If you continually have to reverse course and improvise, what is the point at which it becomes a sign of recklessness instead of willingness to do good will?”

I know! I know the answer! We’ve passed that point.

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