The U.S. State Department Monday removed a post from one of its websites describing President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, after receiving sharp criticism that the post appeared to promote the president’s private business interests.
The content was part of a website named Share America and was published on April 4, but gained wide exposure after being shared on social media accounts of several U.S. embassies.
“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception and have removed the post,” reads a statement now posted in place of the original story.
Trump has owned Mar-a-Lago since 1985 and the club charges a membership fee that doubled in cost to $200,000 after his election in November.The president has visited there seven times since taking office, including trips to host Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Those trips have drawn their own scrutiny due to their expense.
A White House official, speaking to the Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity, said the White House did not know about the article in advance, and declined to comment further on the matter.
Norman Eisen, who served as chief ethics attorney under former President Barack Obama from 2009-2011, said the post violated a federal law prohibiting the use of public office for private gain.
Richard Painter, who held the same ethics post under former President George W. Bush, called the post, “Use of public office for private gain pure and simple.”