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I woke up this morning to find that Donald Trump had tweeted again, but this time his message was unobjectionable.

But the next thing I saw was that the Trump Organization had just had a bunch of trademarks green-lighted by the Chinese government. In fact, a suspiciously high 38 trademarks were granted, including ones for Trump-brand massage parlors and escort services.

China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for President Donald Trump and his family to develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services, public documents show.

Trump’s lawyers in China applied for the marks in April 2016, as Trump railed against China at campaign rallies, accusing it of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. Critics maintain that Trump’s swelling portfolio of China trademarks raises serious conflict of interest questions.

I guess you can have a little extra confidence when your escort is a Trump-brand escort, and you can be sure that Trump-brand massages come with a happy ending.

But is this really consistent with the message that Trump tried to convey this morning? “I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”

I’m just trying to envision the Republican reaction to President Bill Clinton getting Chinese trademarks to brand his name to escort services and massage parlors.

Naturally, there’s a larger issue here that isn’t dependent on our prurient interest.

Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, said the volume of new approvals raised red flags.

“A routine trademark, patent or copyright from a foreign government is likely not an unconstitutional emolument, but with so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is an accommodation in at least some of them,” he said.

Painter is involved in a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s foreign business ties violate the U.S. Constitution. Trump has dismissed the lawsuit as “totally without merit.”

I imagine that, however important it may be, the average Joe isn’t much interested in the Emoluments Clause to the Constitution, even if the evidence keeps piling up that Trump is committing impeachable offenses related to it.

Of course, in my opinion, the public never really cared much about sketchy Chinese fundraising during the Clinton administration, but they perked up and paid attention when Kenneth Starr started talking about sex. Maybe that’s just human nature, but that’s also why Trump-branded escort services and massage parlors are more likely to cause a stir than the larger issue of foreign countries, including China, giving Trump’s business preferential treatment. The former may be tawdry and beneath the dignity of an American president, but it’s the latter that was banned by the Founding Fathers.

In any case, Trump has a funny way of showing his tremendous respect for women, and we can see which vital roles he thinks they fulfill in “the fabric of our society and our economy.”

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at