O.P.M.—How can I explain it? I'll take it frame by frame it.—
OK, that's enough of that.
During a speech in Kenansville, NC, on Tuesday, Donald Trump explained his philosophy for doing business on the world stage with a glancing referencing a '90s Hip Hop classic.
"It's called O.P.M. I do it all the time in business. It's called 'other people's money'," Trump boasted to the crowd. "There's nothing like doing things with other people's money because it takes the risk—you get a good chunk out of it and it takes the risk."
Trump was referring to his plan to build a refugee “safe zone” in war-torn Syria that would be funded entirely by Gulf States, a policy that, like his Mexican border wall, relies on Trump’s supposed ability to coerce foreign nations into footing the bill for U.S. projects.
The phrase O.P.M. appears to be a reference to the 1991 hit single “O.P.P.” by American hip hop trio Naughty by Nature—a song that recounts episodes of infidelity and cuckoldry using the mantra “other people’s property.”
Trump's modification to "O.P.M." isn't new either. In an oral history of "O.P.P.," rapper Treach, a member of the group, explained that the concept of O.P.M. was part of the genesis of the song. "The actual phrase 'O.P.P.' came about from an OG in our 'hood, Mu [Mustafa] Brown," Treach recalled "He always used to say, 'I’m down with O.P.M.: other people's money.'"
Though Trump was referring to his future plans in Syria, the timing of his comments suggest that his O.P.M. philosophy may extend beyond foreign policy. On Tuesday, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold published a blockbuster report suggesting Trump used over a quarter of a million dollars that had been donated to his private charity, The Donald J. Trump Foundation, in order to settle lawsuits against himself.
According to Fahrenthold, Trump twice settled lawsuits over the past decade by agreeing to pay six-figure sums to charity organizations. Trump then paid those charities using money from his private foundation, which gets the vast majority of its funds from other private donors, not Trump himself. Fahrenthold previously reported that Trump himself has not personally made a donation to his own foundation since 2008.
In other words, Trump used “O.P.M.” that had already been donated for charity to settle his own legal disputes.
Fahrenthold also found that Trump had used money from the foundation to fund advertisements for his own hotel chain as well as not one but two portraits of himself.
The IRS has rules against self-dealing that, if enforced in these cases, could require Trump to pay penalties or reimburse his own charity. Given Trump’s history, it might be prudent to specify that that money is supposed to come from Trump’s own pocket.