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 seal was plastered on towels, golf carts and other items as the former president participated in the pro-am event of the Saudi-sponsored tournament Thursday.
It is 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.”
While violating this law could result in imprisonment of “not more than six months,” a fine or both, these punishments are rarely doled out.
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.
Last year, a D.C.-based watchdog group accused his Bedminster golf club of profiting from using images of the presidential seal.
“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,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said when it filed the 2021 complaint.
As Trump teed off Thursday in the pro-am at the latest LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament, the event was closed to the public but open to media.
This week marks the third event of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, with which Trump has joined forces in Bedminster in the face of criticism, and its second in the United States.
The former president was asked whether he had any regrets that the golf club was hosting a LIV Golf event rather than a tournament sanctioned by the U.S. Golf Association or PGA Tour.
“No, no regrets. That’s their problem,” he said. “This course blows every other course away.”
Trump has faced criticism from the survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and their family members for hosting the Saudi-backed golf tournament at his New Jersey resort — 50 miles from Ground Zero.
In an ad released this week, family members of those who lost their lives in the attacks hold up photos of their deceased loved ones while sharing the pain they still endure more than 20 years later.
“How much money to turn your back on your own country?” one woman asks.
The golf tour is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. U.S. intelligence has deemed him responsible for the murder of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
On Thursday, Trump dismissed criticism that he is being too friendly to Saudi Arabia.
“Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately,” Trump told ESPN.
Families of 9/11 victims, many of whom protested Trump’s golf event this week, suspect that Saudi leaders provided financial and logistical support to the terrorism plot, accusations that country’s government has long denied.
The FBI last year released a list of documents from its investigation into whether agents of the Saudi Arabian government provided support to the plot. While the documents have not yielded tangible proof of official involvement of the Saudi government in the attacks, most of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia.
The documents showed that as recently as 2016, FBI agents were still investigating possible ties between two of the hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, and people who may have helped them after they arrived in the United States in 2000.