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Democratic senator asks State Dept watchdog to probe Mar-a-Lago "promotional" material

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden is asking the State Department Inspector General to investigate the State Department's apparent promotion of President Donald Trump's club Mar-a-Lago on its website, a move Wyden called a "clear use of public resources for private gain."

Wyden fired off a letter to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick Thursday, after the New York Times reported that promotional materials from Mar-a-Lago were published on a U.S. State Department website. The promo was taken down and replaced with a brief explanation, but "at least two United States embassies were still promoting the president's private business at the drafting of this letter," Wyden wrote.

Since Mr. Trump hasn't divested from his business interests — including Mar-a-Lago — taxpayer-funded promotion for the club by U.S. embassies "raises immense concern" over possible violation of the foreign emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution, Wyden said.

"I am deeply troubled by press reports indicating the Department of State has developed taxpayer-funded promotional materials for Mar-a-Lago, a private club owned by the president of the United States, and that those materials have been published around the world by United States embassies," the Oregon senator wrote. "I am writing to request an immediate review into why and how these materials were published as well as report from your office on the results of that review."

On the same day, Wyden wrote a separate letter to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, requesting him to investigate Ivanka Trump's trade relations and any financial conflicts of interest, now that she is officially a White House employee as assistant to the president.

Ivanka Trump: "I manage any conflict" that arises with Trump International Hotel

Wyden pointed out that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have "played a prominent role in relations with foreign governments," while the president's elder daughter pursues business ventures involving foreign companies like China, and may start a fund for female entrepreneurs across the globe.

And he expressed concern about "Ms. Trump's refusal to divest from her business interests," as well as "her creation of a fund to solicit foreign money, provides foreign governments an opportunity to improperly influence United States trade and foreign policy." 

"I request that you review Ms. Trump's plans to establish a 'massive fund,' as well as the level of control and financial interest Ms. Trump retains in her apparel business and determine whether her role as a White House adviser creates an impermissible conflict of interest," Wyden continued. 

Wyden has been a vocal critic of Mr. Trump's White House. He's tried to use the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russian meddling in the election to take a look at financial relationships between that country and Mr. Trump. He also tried to get Mr. Trump to release his tax returns via Twitter.

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