It's been nearly four years since President Trump's election, and to make an understatement, his approach to the presidency has been unorthodox.

In an unprecedented break of presidential custom, he has refused to release his tax returns despite ongoing claims of fraud. In an administration led by one of the most recognizable names in the world, the decision to keep the president's personal finances secret has raised many questions, the most notable being: is it possible that Trump may be making money off his presidency?

Back in 2000, Trump made that very claim: "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." In a macro sense, this is obviously based on the real estate mogul's simple maxim of "all press is good press," which the 2016 election made obvious with an estimated $2 billion of free media for Trump. Does all the additional coverage help his business like it helped win him the election?

Regarding Trump's many properties, the answer appears to point that way.

Although declining prices have likely hurt its worth, Trump's 11,000-square-foot penthouse in Trump Tower is now essentially a national monument and is positioned to sell for an additional $10 million simply because of an increase in the value of its main tenant.

Trump Hotels have also seemed to benefit, as President Donald Trump frequently uses his luxury properties for government business and leisure, prompting ethics concerns over a president appearing to promote his private enterprise at public cost. Government officials in Kuwait canceled a major event they had planned at the Four Seasons Hotel and switched their venue to Trump's hotel in D.C. under alleged pressure. The same luxury hotel has emerged as a political power hub and is at the center of a court case about presidential emoluments.

Regarding the president's infamous Mar-a-Lago resort, it has seen its membership fee double to $200,000 since Trump took office. Shortly after the fee hike was revealed, Barack Obama's former ethics lawyer said the increase is a "not very subtle exploitation of the fact that the club's figurehead is now president of the U.S." Forbes estimates the "winter White House" is now worth $160 million, $10 million more than pre-election.

Some of the profiteering is even more direct: Trump immediately launched his reelection campaign on the day he assumed office. Donor money has continually flowed since then, and America's first billionaire president turned more than $900,000 into personal revenue.

And we can't forget Trump's signature 2017 tax reform legislation, which will also clearly benefit the president. Forbes says Trump could save about 10% on business income, which based on his leaked 2005 tax return, could mean as much as $11 million annually.

Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the estate of Donald Trump, in Pa

However, becoming president has had its drawbacks for the businessman.

While his 2016 campaign's controversial marketing strategy helped Trump leverage media coverage to benefit his commercial properties and projects, Forbes reports that, so far, mixing politics and business has hurt him more than it has helped.

By some calculations, Trump's net worth has dropped from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $3.1 billion in the last two years, dropping the president 138 spots lower on the Forbes 400. In regards to Trump Tower, the net operating income dropped 27% between 2014, the year before Trump announced his run for president, and 2017, his first year in the White House.

In refusing to divest his tax returns, Trump has set himself up to be accused of perpetual conflicts of interests that may or may not be true. Forbes' suggests that Trump would be $500 million richer if he had liquidated his assets, paid capital gains tax on his fortune and created a blind trust to invest it all in the stock market.

At the end of the day, Trump has made money off the pedestal he's been given. However, he may have made more—and been better perceived—if he had thrown in the towel altogether.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.



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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.