aside Donald Trump’s Foreign Business Entanglements

Image result for PHOTO Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump
Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

The republicans who repeatedly criticized the democrat’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton while she was the U.S. secretary of state, for the appearance of “conflict of interest” for every time a foreign dignitary donated monies to the Clinton Foundation, had better be prepared to hold their republican President-elect Donald Trump to the same standard. The concept is that numerous foreign officials will donate monies or participate in a business venture, in order to have access or to curry favor with a U.S. leader. The president-elect’s myriad business empire which stretches throughout the world, provides ample opportunities for true “conflict of interests” situations. Steps have yet to be determined as to how the President-elect Trump will manage this situation.

Alexandra Berzon details the President-elect’s international business interests in her 11/2/16 WSJ published report, “Trump’s Foreign Business Entanglements Would Create Unparalleled Conflicts.” Here are excerpts:

“Those whom Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have worked with abroad include: the family of a developer in India who is a ruling-party politician, an Azerbaijani government minister’s son and a media company that became the Turkish president’s outlet of choice during the July 15 (2016) coup attempt.” 

“No recent president has had a portfolio of international business interests as extensive as Mr. Trump’s—or as great a level of business engagement on his behalf by offspring, who have also played a role in his campaign.”     Related image

“U.S. law exempts the president and vice president from conflict-of-interest rules that require many federal employees to recuse themselves from decisions involving their financial interests. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan voluntarily put most assets in blind trusts. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that, if elected, he would have created a federally qualifying blind trust.”

“A President Trump “would not be involved in the business,” said Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten. “His focus obviously would be on the office of the presidency, and Don, Ivanka and Eric would run the company.” Image result for PHOTO Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

Trump Organization is the umbrella company operating the family’s businesses, including real-estate assets and units that manage hotels and condo towers around the world. Much of that is domestic, but its new business in recent years has been heavily overseas—the last 10 new real-estate or real-estate branding deals it has announced are all abroad.”

“That business largely consists of licensing deals, and in some cases management deals, with foreign developers building condo and hotel towers. Clients include wealthy business people and politicians who buy Trump-branded condos. Mr. Trump’s adult children have in recent years taken over day-to-day management of much of the business.”Image result for PHOTO Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

“The filial arrangement would raise questions about potential conflicts of interest in a Trump presidency, especially in dealings abroad, said Aaron Friedberg, a national-security adviser to Dick Cheney when he was vice president.”

“The fact is that his family is involved in business with a list of players—I don’t assume we know them all—in all kinds of places, in many of which the distinction between politics and business is blurry,” said Mr. Friedberg. “Anybody you’re dealing with in those places that has a lot of money is involved in politics in some way.” Related image

“This would also likely come up as an issue for Mr. Trump, Mr. Friedberg said. “It seems to me that a number of questions have been raised that have not been answered,” he said. “It’s not going to go away.”

“Mr. Friedberg is among former Republican national-security officials who signed a letter stating they wouldn’t vote for Mr. Trump because they didn’t believe he was qualified from a foreign-policy perspective.” Related image

“The letter Mr. Friedberg signed didn’t mention Mr. Trump’s foreign business ties, but he and several other signatories said those ties contributed to their reservations. The Trump children would be doing business with companies that might assume they have unique access to the president, Mr. Friedberg said, and with companies whose interests might differ from the national interests their father would be representing.”

“Those potential conflicts are similar to those that have arisen from the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors, said Eric Edelman, who directed Defense Department policy under President George W. Bush and signed the letter opposing Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump and others have called those Clinton Foundation donations a “pay-for-play” arrangement, suggesting foreign contributors to the Clinton family charity may have expected to gain access to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state.”Image result for PHOTO Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

“They are slightly different cases,” said Mr. Edelman, “but both raise very serious concerns about influence peddling and conflicts of interest.”

“Trump Organization’s Mr. Garten acknowledged that the extent of Mr. Trump’s international business connections is unique for a presidential nominee. “I respect that this is different,” he said. “It is a new situation. I don’t believe it presents a conflict.”

“Among potential conflicts is the Trump company’s relationship with Turkey’s Dogan Holding, said Mr. Edelman, the former Bush-administration official and onetime ambassador to Turkey. Dogan operates oil companies, a real-estate empire and media properties in Turkey.”

“Mr. Trump’s May 2016 federal disclosure reports income to one of his companies in the range of $1 million to $5 million since the beginning of 2015 from Dogan related to Istanbul towers bearing Mr. Trump’s name—a deal involving Ivanka Trump early on, according to a 2012 Trump press release. She and her father visited the tower a day after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Turkey’s prime minister and now president, attended the official opening of its associated mall.”Related image

“The night of the failed coup, Dogan’s flagship television network became the venue through which Mr. Erdogan appealed to citizens to oppose the putsch. That was a turnabout for Dogan, whose chairman and other executives this year were charged in Turkey with criminal tax evasion, widely seen as retaliation for a perceived antigovernment slant by Dogan media outlets. A person close to the Dogan family said there has been no wrongdoing.”

“Since the failed coup, Dogan’s media group has taken on a more pro-government line, including broadcasts supporting Mr. Erdogan’s claim that Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen was responsible for the putsch.”

“Turkey has asked the U.S. to extradite Mr. Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and has denied the allegation. The U.S. Justice Department has said it is reviewing that request; privately, many senior U.S. officials have said they are skeptical of Turkey’s claims against Mr. Gulen.”Image result for istanbul trump towers

“The next American president will likely inherit that thorny bilateral dispute.”

“Mr. Garten said the Dogan relationship wouldn’t be a problem because the Trump Organization would be separate from Mr. Trump. The person close to Dogan said the company would prefer to remove the Trump name from its buildings based on the candidate’s “anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

Image result for photo presidential palace, Casa de Nariño
presidential palace, Casa de Nariño

“When Donald Trump Jr. sought a few years ago to expand his father’s real-estate empire in Latin America, he turned to businessman Camilo Benedetti, brother of a Colombian senator.”

“Mr. Benedetti took the younger Mr. Trump around Mexico in 2010 and Colombia in 2011, where Mr. Benedetti had relationships with top government officials, Mr. Benedetti said. One meeting was with Colombia’s leader at the presidential palace, Casa de Nariño.”

“I asked him as a favor,” Mr. Benedetti said of the president. The meeting didn’t result in any active business developments, said Mr. Benedetti and Mr. Garten.”

Image result for photo of Bali resort trump
BALI

“There’s no question that whenever the Trump Organization looks into a project or enters a new market, there is often excitement both from the business sector and maybe even, in some countries, the government,” Mr. Garten said of the meeting and others like it that the Trump children have had with foreign leaders.”

“One of the newest Trump partners, Indonesian media magnate Hary Tanoesoedibjo, had business ties with family members of Suharto, the country’s late dictator. He ran unsuccessfully for vice president in the most-recent national election and formed a political party critical of the current government.”Image result for photo of Bali resort trump

“Last year, Trump Organization announced a deal to manage a Bali resort owned by Mr. Tanoesoedibjo’s company, PT Global Mediacom Tbk, and to develop a golf resort in West Java with him. Mr. Trump reported a range of $2 million to $10 million income to his companies from the projects since the beginning of 2015 in his May 2016 federal disclosures. Donald Trump Jr. was involved in the deals, according to news releases announcing them. Mr. Garten declined to comment on the Indonesian project. Mr. Tanoesoedibjo’s assistant didn’t respond to requests for comment.”Image result for mumbai trump tower

“In Mumbai, India, the Trump Organization has a brand-licensing deal for a condo tower with Lodha Group, whose founder, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, is among India’s wealthiest property owners and a member of his state’s legislature from India’s ruling party.”

“Mr. Trump’s May 2016 federal disclosure shows income to a Trump Organization company of $1 million to $5 million since the beginning of 2015 from the licensing deal. A Lodha spokeswoman said both companies “work with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.” Mr. Garten said that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. worked on the project and that he isn’t concerned that Mr. Lodha is a politician.”Related image

“There’s a great relationship between Mr. Trump’s children and the principals of that project,” he said. “I don’t see the potential issue.”

“In Azerbaijan, Mr. Trump’s July 2015 federal disclosure reports that a company owned by Mr. Trump had received $2.5 million in income since the beginning of 2014 in a deal that includes management services for a hotel and condo tower being developed by Anar Mammadov, whose father is the country’s transportation minister. Ivanka Trump’s website says she oversaw the project “since its inception.” Mr. Garten said the project is on hold.”Image result for azerbaijan trump

“The Azerbaijan America Alliance, in a press release, listed Mr. Mammadov as its founder. The group spent $12.6 million between 2011 and 2015 on federal lobbyists to promote Azerbaijan interests in Washington, according to federal filings compiled by Center For Responsive Politics. Calls to the number given on Mr. Mammadov’s company website weren’t answered. Calls to the Azerbaijan America Alliance’s number were answered by a lobbying firm that said it didn’t represent the alliance anymore.”

11 comments

  1. There is a big difference here. The Clinton Foundation has used money from foreign governments not only to get favors, but it allowed Clinton to enrich her and her family through the foundation , not to mention speaking engagements set through the foundation. Trump has not enriched himself through political means. Most of Trumps foreign businesses are licensed through branding and many of the properties and Hotels that bears his name is not owned by him. He has already said that his family will take over the busilness and he will concentrate of running the country. The whole family affair and transitioning has been blown way out of proportion by the Washington Post and New York Times (saying that the family members are appointing cabinet members, yada yada yada) There is no conflict of interest here.

    • Dear Once Written,

      Welcome!

      The Clintons did not earn salaries for their roles as part of the foundation. The foundation is top rated by charitable oversight organizations for its management and its effectiveness. Bill Gates is no fool and he is their #1 contributor.

      What a lot of those on the right don’t know is that Mrs. Clinton originally turned down the offer by President Obama to be secretary of state because of how difficult it would be to separate out the appearance of “conflict of interest ” with the existence of the Clinton Foundation while she was acting from her high level position. She did give up her position on the board of directors.

      The problem is one of appearance. Whenever a foreign entity donates monies to an organization like the Clinton Foundation, there has to be some hope for the donor to have access to someone like U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. This just looks awful even when the dignitary is of a level that he/ she would automatically be granted a meeting with Mrs. Clinton..

      For me, it was problematic (unseemly) when it was reported by Bloomberg that during Hillary Clinton’s four years at the State Department, her husband was paid $47.7 million in speaking fees. Most of his highest paid speeches were given abroad between 2009 and 2013.

      Here’s the rub. There was nothing to prevent foreign officials from currying favor with the Clintons by simply hiring the former President Bill Clinton to give a speech instead of donating to the Clinton Foundation. Mrs. Clinton was barred from giving speeches. Their daughter Chelsea is the one who took over the major duties of overseeing the charity. Within a few months, a long time associate of the Clintons, Doug Band was denied access to the foundation because it was discovered that he was being less than above the board in his dealings with those donating monies.

      PolitiFact published on 9/1/16, the rating of the following statement as mostly true:

      “The Clinton Foundation is a charity where President and Secretary Clinton and their daughter, they take no salary, they get no money from it, they take no personal benefit from it.”
      — Hilary Rosen on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 in “The Diane Rehm Show”

      PolitiFact reports: The Clinton Foundation is a public charity that, as we have reported, allocates about 80-90 percent of its expenditures to charitable programs, while the rest goes to fundraising and overhead.”

      “So the Clintons don’t receive compensation from the foundation. However, you can make a case that they have received some indirect personal benefits.”

      “This is not to say that any of these benefits are unethical or improper. Experts on nonprofit ethics told us these are pretty standard, and they haven’t seen anything reported about the Clinton Foundation that proves corruption.”

      “Still, it’s worth reviewing the limited types of benefits that the Clintons do get.”

      (Public Relations Benefit) “Throughout its existence, the Clinton Foundation has received attention for its work to make AIDS medication more accessible in Africa, efforts to combat climate change, establishing a business mentoring program, writing school food guidelines, and more. Every fall, Bill Clinton and his family receive a spate of press as the stars of the annual Clinton Global Initiative, a networking conference for wealthy philanthropic donors. Chelsea Clinton has embraced her role as a public face of the organization.”

      “It does continue to draw attention to the work they do as family and individuals throughout the world,” said Ann Skeet, director of leadership ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. “At a minimum, it is good public relations.”

      “When the Internal Revenue Service evaluates charities applying for tax-exempt status, which the foundation has, it wants to ensure that the organization is set up to provide a public benefit rather than serve private financial desires, Skeet said. There’s nothing improper about the Clintons taking advantage of their public image in this role, as long as it goes toward that public benefit.”
      Another big benefit: The Clintons’ role as high-dollar fundraisers for the foundation also enabled them to maintain relationships with wealthy and powerful individuals, including many who are also involved in the Democratic Party. There are some crossover big money donors, such as Fred Eychaner, Haim Saban and Daniel Abraham. (Republicans have been involved in the foundation, too; Mitt Romney spoke at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative amid his run for the White House.)

      The Clintons have also received some indirect monetary benefits from their charitable work, though none of this money came from the foundation’s coffers.

      “Bill Clinton wrote a book in 2007 called Giving, for which he received an advance of about $5 million, according to the New York Times. The book was about charitable work and so is, in part, based on his work with the Clinton Foundation.”

      “Similarly, he has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars delivering numerous speeches where he talks about his Clinton Foundation work. For example, Samsung Electronics paid Bill Clinton $450,000 to deliver the keynote address at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, during which he talked about how technology has affected his work in the developing world through the Clinton Foundation. Samsung has also donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation.”Experts also pointed out that the Clintons have donated to their own charity, and those donations would be tax-deductible. Bill and Hillary Clinton have donated millions to their private philanthropy, the Clinton Family Foundation, which has in turn given between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. Chelsea Clinton herself has donated between $25,000 and $50,000.”

      “And foundation tax documents stipulate that the Clintons, “due to extraordinary security and other requirements,” often need to travel first class or via charter plane. A spokesperson said that in some cases, when the Clintons travel on foundation business, the foundation pays for their travel service directly. At least one campaign ad has been made lampooning Hillary Clinton’s travel on private jets.”

      Our ruling:

      “Rosen said, “The Clinton Foundation is a charity where President and Secretary Clinton and their daughter, they take no salary, they get no money from it, they take no personal benefit from it.”

      “Rosen’s claim is correct on its face. The Clintons do not take any sort of paycheck, bonus or fees from the Clinton Foundation.”

      “It is possible the foundation has boosted the Clintons’ public image since Bill Clinton left office, and this has helped them command hefty speaker fees and book advances, and it’s also given them extra opportunities to mingle with the global elite. But they may have gotten these benefits even without the Clinton Foundation. Their celebrity primarily comes from their track record in politics.’

      “We rate her claim Mostly True.” (Source for above information is from 9/1/16 PolitiFact publication by Lauren Carroll.)

      The above info is public, mostly via the Clintons IRS tax returns.

      Hillary Clinton was right. There was no way to separate herself fully from the foundation without dissolving it, despite all the good that it does.

      This situation will be even more troublesome for President-elect Trump because of all his foreign business concerns. Every time, he receives favorable treatment for any of his business entities by foreign dignitaries, there will exist the suspicion of a “conflict of interest” situation. THERE IS NO WAY TO AVOID THIS. The question is how does President-elect Trump plan to deal with this dilemma.

      He is being advised by top notch lawyers who specialize in this area.

      He does not want to see any more BuzzFeed headlines like:”Trump Foundation Received $150,000 Donation In Exchange For 2015 Ukraine Speech.”

      Thanks for stopping by and for taking time to comment, Gronda

  2. Gronda, per the earlier reporting Curt Eichenwald of Newsweek, which was not played up much in mainstream news, Trump has also involved himself with some fairly dubious characters, a money launderer for Iranian officials, a South Korean man who was arrested for embezzlement and fled to North Korea, e.g. and he has offended several officials in Saudi Arabia and India. His lack of due diligence is alarming, especially since he is licensing his name for royalties. But, evidence of how he has violated protocols on his phone calls with Taiwanese, Pakistani, Philippines, e.g. leadership shows he cares little about doing homework or preparing for relationships.

    Per the Newsweek article, it will be hard for him to divorce himself from a pay-for-play mindset that both he and others will have. This will be modus operandi, in my view.

    Nice work, Keith

  3. He and his Cabinet members, kids (cronies) will be making millions of dollars off of the back of the United States. Can you even imagine if President Obama would have been doing these sort of things? The conservatives heads would have exploded! Why isn’t more being done about this? How can this not be a conflict of interest? The United States will lose all credibility abroad with this wingnut in charge.

  4. It’s like being trapped in an episode of the Sopranos.

    And will Trump supporters please stop using allegation’s of Clinton’s corruption to excuse Trump’s.

    I’m more than a little sick of the average Trump supporter’s delusions of moral and ethical superiority.

    If Clinton had won the electoral college and was pulling this crap I’d want her investigated too.

    It’s called being an American.

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