Trump Wine: Local Promotion Or Presidential Product Placement? Ninety miles west of the White House, the National Park Service was selling Trump Wine at Shenandoah National Park — raising questions about Park Service rules and presidential influence.

Trump Wine: Local Promotion Or Presidential Product Placement?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/566147257/566283298" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

When Donald Trump was running for president last year, he gave a primary night victory speech that's telling. He stood in front of a row of American flags and a display of Trump-branded products - Trump water, Trump wine and...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And we have Trump steaks. And by the way, if you want to take one, we'll charge you about - what? - 50 bucks a steak. No, I won't.

(LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Since taking office, President Trump has continued to promote his businesses. So when Trump wine showed up for sale at a national park in Virginia, NPR's Peter Overby decided to take a closer look.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Trump wine popped into the news back in August. The president was talking about the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Charlottesville is a great place that's been very badly hurt over the last couple of days. I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States. It's in Charlottesville.

OVERBY: Some weeks earlier, Bill Snape heard from some co-workers that a national park not far from Charlottesville was selling Trump wine.

BILL SNAPE: They had been at Shenandoah National Park and seen a lot of Trump wine.

OVERBY: Specifically at a gift shop there. Snape is a lawyer in Washington with the Center for Biological Diversity. It works to protect endangered species. Shenandoah National Park is roughly midway between Charlottesville and Washington. Snape went camping there for the weekend.

SNAPE: Yeah, I'm not going to drive out just to see Trump wine.

OVERBY: And, yes, there was the wine in the shop. He didn't buy any, but he did file a Freedom of Information request this week for Interior Department records on wine sales at national parks. As he points out, that part of Virginia is loaded with vineyards.

SNAPE: There are so many different wines you could pick from Virginia to sell at Shenandoah National Park. The fact that Trump wine is there raises a lot of questions.

OVERBY: This episode was first reported by E & E News, which covers energy and environmental issues. The National Park Service said it authorizes categories of products to sell, but the company running the gift shop chooses the brands. At Shenandoah, that company is Delaware North. It said Trump wines was sold as a local brand, but they dropped it in September. The White House declined NPR's request for comment.

Richard Painter was White House ethics council for President George W. Bush. Now he's with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington - a group with two corruption lawsuits pending against Trump. Painter said a gift shop contract seems OK, but the bigger context is troubling.

RICHARD PAINTER: The Trump administration has sent the message that the promotion of the Trump brand name is critically important to the president.

OVERBY: And because the Park Service reports up to Trump appointees, messages from above can easily filter down. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNKY DL'S "WHERE I'M COMING FROM")

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.