CNN anchor Chris Cuomo lambasted Donald Trump for posting a photo to social media promoting the food company Goya after its CEO praised the president, a move that triggered backlash and calls for a boycott.
Cuomo delivered the scathing remarks during his Wednesday night show, calling a photo the president posted to social media with several Goya products from behind the Resolute Desk “bull****” and insisting his criticism had nothing to do with politics.
“Tell me how a president in the middle of a pandemic has got time for this bull****,” the anchor begins, pointing the photo of a smiling Mr Trump with two thumbs up, grinning behind cans of beans and coconut milk. “Are you kidding me? Hocking products? Goya, I don’t care who it is. Resolute Desk? This is what he’s resolute about?”
Mr Trump posted the photo to his Instagram page after Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue received mounting criticism for comments he made in a press conference earlier this month, in which he said the country was “truly blessed” to have a leader like Mr Trump, calling the president a “builder” and adding: “That’s what my grandfather did, he came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper … and we pray, we pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country.”
The statement led to fierce backlash against Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US, with actor Lin-Manuel Miranda writing in a tweet: “We learned to bake bread in this pandemic, we can learn to make our own adobo con pimienta. Bye."
Had I done this while working at the White House during the Obama administration, I would have been fired , probably on the same day, but surely by the following day. https://t.co/Ol3EsJcvlR— Michael McFaul (@McFaul)July 15, 2020
Ivanka Trump also posted a photo to social media holding a can of Goya black beans, writing in a caption: “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” She also included the Spanish translation: “Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.”
Both the president and his daughter’s posts were immediately met with questions about potential ethical violations and conflicts of interest.
“Pandemic priorities?” Mr Cuomo said. “Are you kidding me? Marketing for a brand following calls for boycotts after Goya’s CEO heaped praise on Trump last week. On your dime. In the middle of a pandemic.”
He added: “They’re selling beans? Are you kidding me? Seriously, seriously: This is not left and right. This is reasonable my brothers and sisters. The guy is sitting on the Resolute Desk with a bunch of Goya products!”
You can’t use your official position to promote a private business. It’s pretty simple.https://t.co/DQaB37Vj7K— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew)July 16, 2020
The TV anchor wasn’t the only one sounding the alarm over the photos.
Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote in a tweet: “Had I done this while working at the White House during the Obama administration, I would have been fired , probably on the same day, but surely by the following day.”
In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote: “Ivanka Trump’s posts violated an executive branch ethics regulation prohibiting employees from misusing their official positions to endorse commercial products. As a pictorial representation of the Trump administration’s war on government ethics, both photos are perfectly clear. They scream ‘the rules don’t apply to us,’ a central message of the Trump administration from the start.”