In a recent report for USA Today, investigative reporter Steve Reilly uncovered the purpose of a newly-formed corporation that netted President Donald Trump $107,000 in 2017.
In the report, Reilly reveals that T Retail LLC, formed in 2017, is actually TrumpStore.com. The retail website sells high-price items bearing the president’s name, such as baseball caps (though the famous Make America Great Again cap is not among them) and shirts.
Though the Trump Organization initially dodged Reilly’s questions about the LLC, it eventually confirmed to USA Today that it was indeed behind the online store.
UPDATE: Following publication of our story — and after a week of ignoring questions — the Trump Organization confirmed the mysterious new LLC from which President Trump earned $107K in 2017 is the entity behind https://t.co/KT6kxbjAPm, a new store selling items with Trump’s name. https://t.co/RiT2SMroOi
— Steve Reilly (@BySteveReilly) May 24, 2018
The Trump Store also has a physical location in New York’s Trump Tower, but Reilly stated in a followup tweet that the Trump Organization said its revenue was not included in the $107,000.
As NPR noted in its own reporting about the store’s opening, Trump would not be the first politician with an online store. But where Trump differs from others is that revenues from his store goes into his pocket.
“It fits again into the larger problem of him basically promoting his businesses from the White House,” Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center told NPR in 2017. “We haven’t had another situation where a president has had a website where his business is selling things that are branded with his name.”
Trump’s relatively brief time as a politician has been filled with concerns that he has used his position to enrich himself. An April report by government watchdog Public Citizen found that during the first 15 months of his candidacy and presidency, political groups and federal agencies spent more than $15 million at Trump properties.
Trump has additionally been the target of lawsuits over alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause due to foreign governments making use of his own hotel in Washington, D.C.
Trump has also been no stranger to using situations to sell campaign merchandise, even when it’s inappropriate. Earlier this year, his re-election campaign sold “American Dreamer” caps, a dig on DACA recipients and a phrase adopted by white nationalists. And last year, in the midst of federal response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Trump was spotted wearing another cap sold by his campaign. This instance was met with criticism from ethics watchdogs.