Conflicts of interest: Trump’s vast web of private business deals

The Washington Post reports: Turkey is a nation in crisis, scarred by government crackdowns following a failed coup attempt and on a potential collision course with the West. It is also home to a valuable revenue stream for the president-elect’s business empire: Trump Towers Istanbul.

Donald Trump’s company has been paid up to $10 million by the tower’s developers since 2014 to affix the Trump name atop the luxury complex, whose owner, one of Turkey’s biggest oil and media conglomerates, has become an influential megaphone for the country’s increasingly repressive regime.

That, ethics advisers said, forces the Trump complex into an unprecedented nexus: as both a potential channel for dealmakers seeking to curry favor with the Trump White House and a potential target for attacks or security risks overseas.

The president-elect’s Turkey deal marks a harrowing vulnerability that even Trump has deemed “a little conflict of interest”: a private moneymaker that could open him to foreign influence and tilt his decision-making as America’s executive in chief.

But the ethics experts eyeing Trump’s empire are now warning of many others, found among a vast assortment of foreign business interests never before seen in past presidencies. At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, a Washington Post analysis of Trump financial filings shows. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: About 100 foreign diplomats, from Brazil to Turkey, gathered at the Trump International Hotel this week to sip Trump-branded champagne, dine on sliders and hear a sales pitch about the U.S. president-elect’s newest hotel.

The event for the diplomatic community, held one week after the election, was in the Lincoln Library, a junior ballroom with 16-foot ceilings and velvet drapes that is also available for rent.

Some attendees won raffle prizes — among them overnight stays at other Trump properties around the world — allowing them to become better acquainted with the business holdings of the new commander in chief.

“The place was packed,” said Lynn Van Fleit, founder of the nonprofit Diplomacy Matters Institute, which organizes programs for foreign diplomats and government officials. She said much of the discussion among Washington-based diplomats is over “how are we going to build ties with the new administration.”

Back when many expected Trump to lose the election, speculation was rife that business would suffer at the hotels, condos and golf courses that bear his name. Now, those venues offer the prospect of something else: a chance to curry favor or access with the next president. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Conflicts of interest: Trump’s vast web of private business deals

  1. hquain

    Political ‘thinkers’ often show a naivete that suggests an astonishing level of alienation from the mechanism of the real world.

    Beinart writes: “Now I think America needs electors who, in times of national emergency, can prevent demagogues from taking power.”

    Resting on the malleable term ‘ national emergency’, this prescription leaves the electoral college wide open for routine predation by special interests. The US system is not formally a democracy, because of the well-known features that Beinart catalogues. But it looks rather like one in practice, because the norms surrounding its institutions allow it to function as an approximation of one. Drop those norms — here, that the electoral votes track the state votes — and the door is wide open to departures and abuses of kinds we can barely imagine. And they would be accompanied by massive disruptions. Beinart really wants a deus ex machina to save us from the likes of Trump, but once the machine is built, we can be sure that it — and reactions to it — will deliver ‘gods’ of all kinds into the polity.

    Most odd, I believe, is that fact that without the electoral college, we’d have been saved from both Bush and Trump. It’s not democracy that has destroyed the system, but its lack, and it’s not brilliantly contrarian but merely foolish to see the solution in further anti-democratic departures.

  2. Paul Woodward

    The presidential system could benefit from being streamlined in several ways — including a swifter transfer of power.

    One of the effects of having a close to three-month transition is that it creates a lot of space within which it’s possible to continue questioning the election result.

    Acknowledging my bias resulting from the fact that Britain has the system I grew up with, I do like the fact that when a prime minister loses an election, his departure from No. 10 is utterly unceremonious — more like an eviction. Within hours of losing, the moving trucks arrive.

    The value of dispensing with political leaders so swiftly is that it should make them permanently feel insecure about their tenure. In a healthy democracy, public service and personal sacrifice operate hand in hand.

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