President- elect Donald Trump, owner of hotels, golf courses, casinos, office towers, not to forget the Empire line of fragrances, has prompted quite a few questions about his foreign business ties and potential conflicts of interest.
During the campaign when asked what he would do with his business empire if he won, he had said, “If I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company, it’s peanuts.” He had gone on to say that his “kids” would run the company, “you’ve got to do it for America.”
So, all the talk of the business being handed over to a “Blind Trust” is hogwash. It can’t be a blind trust when his children are going to run it, more so because of his children’s involvement in the transition team.
Deutsche Bank is being investigated by the justice department for its role in the 2008 financial crisis, and there is a likelihood of the bank facing up to a $14 billion fine. Interestingly, Deutsche Bank happens to be one of Trump’s main lenders; Trump has a $300 million mortgage with them.
So, where is the conflict of interest? Well, as the president he gets to decide who heads the justice department – and he’s already done it by nominating a close loyalist, Alabama Senator, Jeff Sessions, for the position of Attorney General, head of the United States Department of Justice.
Here’s another conflict of interest good enough to raise many an eyebrow. He is said to owe hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bank of China, a state-owned bank which means he owes money to the Peoples’ Republic of China, in a sense. So, what about his campaign threats to impose high tariffs on Chinese goods which, many believe, can lead to a trade war with China, if not a real war?
Considered one of the bigger conflicts of interest, not too far away from the White House, is the Trump International Hotel. Now, how does that create a conflict of interest?
A recent report from The Washington Post spoke about a fair amount of urgency being shown by foreign visitors in booking rooms / suites in The Trump International Hotel, apparently, to express their approval of his presidency. If legal experts are to be believed, this is a form of “emolument” or gift which is against the Constitution of the nation.
There are many other questions being raised with reference to the issue of conflicts of interest which, according to Trump himself, is more media hype than anything else. “Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world,” Trump tweeted Monday night. “Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!”
The family angle makes it another conflict of interest matter, with the idea of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, becoming a senior White House official being floated around. There is, however, an anti-nepotism law since 1967 which still applies, although the Trump camp believes that the president is exempt from that law.
Even if the president is exempt from the “conflict of interest law,” or “anti-nepotism law”, Congress can always intervene with an impeachment call if things get out of hand, according to experts.