Trump faces heat over use of presidential seal at club set to host Saudi-backed LIV tourny

A criminal complaint has been filed against former President Donald Trump‘s New Jersey golf resort over the use of the presidential seal.

Golf tee markers displaying the seal seen in an Instagram post shared from the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, which is set to host the Saudi-backed LIV tournament, prompted Citizens for Reform and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to file a complaint with the Justice Department last year accusing the club of violating federal law.

“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,” CREW said at the time it filed the complaint.

Liberal Trump haters were eager to respond to the more recent news as related to the LIV series:

“Donald Trump has plastered the presidential seal across his New Jersey golf club as he controversially plays host to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament–despite watchdog complaints about the one-time president exploiting the image for commercial purposes,” CREW tweeted, this being the lede paragraph of an Independent article on the matter.

The use of the presidential seal also includes Trump’s golf bag, towels and golf carts, according to The Washington Post.

“Former president Donald Trump was spotted using the presidential seal on multiple items during the LIV Golf tournament at his Bedminster, N.J., golf course,” the newspaper reported. “The seal was plastered on towels, golf carts and other items as the former president participated in the pro-am of the Saudi-sponsored tournament Thursday.”

The Post noted that it’s against federal law to use the presidential and vice-presidential seals in ways that could convey “a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States,” and felt compelled to share that violations could result in imprisonment of “not more than six months,” a fine, or both. To be fair the liberal paper admitted that the punishments “are rarely doled out.”

Citing federal law, the Citizens for Reform and Ethics complaint stated:

Under 18 U.S.C. § 713(a), it is a crime to “knowingly display[] any printed or other likeness of the . . . seal[] of the President . . . of the United States . . . in, or in connection with . . . any building, monument, or stationery . . . for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States.”3 Violators face up to six months’ imprisonment and a monetary fine.4 The Attorney General may bring an action to enjoin violations of the statute “[u]pon complaint by any authorized representative of any department or agency of the United States.”

Here, there is reason to believe that Trump Bedminster is violating § 713(a) by knowingly displaying a likeness of the presidential seal for commercial purposes. As an initial matter, no question has been raised as to the authenticity of the July 5 photograph, which appears to depict Trump Bedminster and was posted to Instagram with the golf club tagged as the location. The Trump Organization has not responded to Forbes’ request for comment on the photograph,6 nor has it publicly denied its authenticity. If Trump Bedminster is in fact displaying the presidential seal as depicted in the photograph, the display would be “in connection with” a “building” (i.e., the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster) within the meaning of § 713(a).


The Post would point out that this is not the first time the display of the seal has been reported at Trump properties.

“The logo appeared on a marker at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla. in an Instagram post earlier this year, according to Forbes. WNYC and ProPublica reported in 2018 that the Trump Organization ordered golf course tee markers with the emblem on them,” the paper reported.

The aforementioned Instagram Post can be seen here:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Keith Otto (@ottokeith)


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