Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
The main story in the released rough transcript of the conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is of course that Trump repeatedly solicited assistance in digging up dirt on a political rival – an outrageous abuse of power and violation of his oath of office.
But it is notable that the transcript also includes a comment by Zelensky that on a previous trip to the U.S. he stayed at the Trump International Hotel and Tower near Central Park in New York City.
The comment was natural and exactly the sort of remark that new acquaintances make to each other when they are getting to know one another other. It was also exactly the sort of remark that a person would make to Trump – a man notably susceptible to flattery and sycophantism – if he or she were trying to get in his good graces.
This kind of casual corruption is an inevitable outgrowth of Trump’s refusal to divest his business holdings and his everyday violation of Constitution’s anti-corruption (emoluments) clause.