In a complaint filed by CREW (Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington) on 26 July, the former president and his golf resort were accused of breaking federal law by displaying a form of “presidential seal”, and of profiting from it.
Bedminster, according to CREW’s complaint, which was first reported by Forbes, appeared to be displaying the unofficial seal over the Fourth of July weekend, when the club shared an image of a tee featuring a “President of the United States” design on Instagram.
Displaying the presidential seal is only allowed “in official government settings, such as in the Oval Office or on the side of Air Force One, and its use outside of that context has been strictly policed by the White House Counsel’s Office”, the complaint, which was filed with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), alleged.
Trump Bedminster, it continued, also “appears to be using the seal ‘in a manner reasonably calculated to convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval’ of the golf club ‘by the Government of the United States’”, which is banned by federal law.
CREW president Noah Bookbinder said of the golf club: “Unlawful use of the presidential seal for commercial purposes is no trivial matter, especially when it involves a former president who is actively challenging the legitimacy of the current president”.
“The use of the seal at Bedminster not only helps Donald Trump’s business improperly profit from the prestige of the presidency, it also seems to echo false claims that Trump won the 2020 election, which is dangerous for democracy. The DOJ should act swiftly to investigate and halt any improper use of the presidential seal.”
It is not the first time the Trump Organization has been accused of profiting from the presidency, after ProPublica found in 2018 that his golf clubs had ordered a supply of tee markers with a presidential seal. It denied doing so.
As Forbes reported, Mr Trump retained full interest in Trump National Golf Club Bedminster when he became president. He has spent summer 2021 at the golf club, which according to reports, has come at cost of thousands of dollars to US taxpayers for security.
The Independent has approached the Trump Organization and the DOJ for comment.