Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek magazine has just published a story confirming that reality show star-turned-Republican presidential nominee would be “the most conflicted president in American history” if he was elected but still refused to sever all family ties to the Trump Organization.
Reporting that Trump’s “business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States,” Eichenwald recounts just some of the many dubious relationships Trump has to shady, or even criminal, foreign interests. While there is no evidence of Trump’s involvement in illegal activity, his private business interests would undoubtedly affect, and be be affected by, his foreign policy decisions.
Here’s the cover for Newsweek’s big look at Trump’s business background. Note the blurb. pic.twitter.com/Vjvd6cOs7q
— Philip Bump (@pbump) September 14, 2016
For example, even as Trump looks to greatly expand his operations in India, the Trump Towers Pune project is embroiled in a scandal over alleged land-grabbing. How might that affect his decisions? Perhaps more importantly, how would it affect the decisions of the Indian government?
If he plays tough with India, will the government assume it has to clear the way for projects in that “aggressive pipeline” and kill the investigations involving Trump’s Pune partners? And if Trump takes a hard line with Pakistan, will it be for America’s strategic interests or to appease Indian government officials who might jeopardize his profits from Trump Towers Pune?
Or consider Donald Trump’s strained relations with the president of Turkey, one of America’s most important regional partners, over his anti-Muslim pronouncements.
Turkey is among the few Muslim countries allied with America in the fight against the Islamic State militant group; it carries even greater importance because it is a Sunni-majority nation aiding the U.S. military against the Sunni extremists. Turkey has allowed the U.S. Air Force to use a base as a major staging area for bombing and surveillance missions against ISIS. A Trump presidency, according to the Arab financier in direct contact with senior Turkish officials, would place that cooperation at risk, particularly since Erdogan, who is said to despise Trump, has grasped more power following a thwarted coup d’état in July.
The most alarming prospects for Trump’s business ties to warp US policy are in the Russian periphery. Trump has long expressed a keen interest in licensing his name to high-rise developments in Moscow, so it is not inconceivable that he would finally get his wish in exchange for giving Vladimir Putin a free hand in Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltic states, and the Caucasus.
Eichenwald’s reporting comes less than a month after a New York Times investigation similarly concluded that the Trump Organization would be a transparency nightmare if he was elected.
Saying that Federal Election Commission forms are just too simple to contain the entire complex, intricate web of deals and arrangements that make up Trump’s business empire, reporter Susanne Craig found that the Trump Organization carried more than twice as much debt as the Trump campaign had reported.
That raises the frightening prospect of creditors using their financial leverage to influence his decisions. America has never elected a president who owed so much money to so many people — Wall Street financiers, firms tied to foreign governments, mafia-connected Russian oligarchs, you name it.
Normally, presidents avoid these conflicts of interest by putting their finances into blind trusts that replace old assets with new ones that are unknown to the beneficiary.
But Donald Trump has said that if elected, he will likely leave his business to his children instead, a move that would not reduce his glaring conflicts of interest. As Eichenwald says, Trump’s entire family would need to completely sever all ties to the Trump Organization on a permanent basis. Anything less will simply not be good enough.
And that might put Trump in a dilemma well before November.
His presidential bid was always supposed to be a means for bootstrapping future projects. If he defies calls for a complete family separation from the Trump Organization, yet still keeps running for president, Donald will invite endless criticism of his candidacy. But if leaving his business behind forever is a mandatory drawback of winning the White House, will Trump still want to?
Read the Newsweek article here.
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