Trump Faces Business Conflicts At G20 Summit
July 6, 2017
Today, Donald Trump lands Hamburg, Germany for the annual G20 summit. If his past actions are any indication, Trump will have trouble separating his business interests from those of the American people.
He’s already running foreign policy like the U.S. government is a subsidiary of the Trump Organization: He carved out exceptions to his Muslim ban for countries where he has business and exploited Brexit to fatten his wallet as a candidate. Here are some of the ways he’s already used G20 members to make money for himself:
Trump’s Muslim ban excluded the three Muslim-majority members of the G20 with whom Trump had extensive business ties.
Bloomberg: “ The new order excludes Iraq, which fell under the first ban, and makes other changes to specify who can and can’t enter the U.S. But one thing hasn’t changed: His proposed list doesn’t include Muslim-majority countries where hisTrump Organization has done business or pursued potential deals. Properties include golf courses in the United Arab Emirates and two luxury towers operating in Turkey.”
Trump’s Muslim ban did not include Turkey, where Trump admitted to having a conflict of interest because of his hotel in Istanbul.
TIME: “President Trump said that he has a ‘conflict of interest’ in Turkey because of a development there in a 2015 interview. … ‘I have a little conflict of interest 'cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul,’ Trump said on Breitbart News Daily. ‘It's a tremendously successful job. It's called Trump Towers—two towers, instead of one, not the usual one, it's two.’”
Trump’s Muslim ban excluded Saudi Arabia where Trump had a long business history, despite Trumpblaming Saudi Arabia for 9/11.
BuzzFeed: “The companies tied to the apparent project in Saudi Arabia may be the most puzzling: They were incorporated in August but dissolved within months, without any public disclosure about their purpose. Trump’s apparent business efforts in Saudi Arabia could raise eyebrows, especially because he said in February that the nation ‘blew up the World Trade Center,’ an apparent reference to the 9/11 attacks.”
Yahoo: “A group of families of Sept. 11 victims is asking the Justice Department to investigate an ‘unprecedented foreign influence campaign’ by Saudi Arabia — including ‘all-expenses paid’ trips to Washington, D.C., with stays at the new TrumpInternational Hotel for veterans willing to lobby to weaken a new law permitting the Saudi government to be sued for complicity in the 2001 terror attacks.”
CBS News: “In 1991, Alwaleed bought Trump's 283-food yacht from creditors at what BusinessWeek called ‘the knockdown price of $18 million.’ Four years later, Alwaleed and his partner acquired majority control of The Plaza, the luxurious New York City hotel, buying out Trump and opening the door to creditors forgiving Trump $125 million in debt.”
New York Daily News: “Rebecca Ocampo, who alleged in court papers she helped broker the deal between Trump and the Saudis, said the apartments were about more than money — they were also about “access” to a new, potentially lucrative market in the Middle East.”
Trump also used the presidency to advance his business aims in G20 countries.
Trump asked the Argentinian president about a permitting issue with his real estate project in the country when the president called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory.
Talking Points Memo: “According to a report out of Argentina, when Argentine President Mauricio Macri called President-Elect Trump to congratulate him on his election, Trump asked Macri to deal with the permitting issues that are currently holding up the project.’”
Three days after Trump’s call with the Argentinian president, Trump’s project partners in Argentina announced that their delayed, $100 million project was moving forward.
Washington Post: “In Argentina, President Mauricio Macri connected by phone with President-elect Trump and his daughter Ivanka on Nov. 14. Three days later, Trump’s development partner in Argentina, the YY Development Group, put out word that the $100 million project was moving forward, featuring on its website a South American news report touting the progress.”
Trump’s Brazilian trade partner attempted to set up a meeting between Trump, the Brazilian president and trade minister.
Bloomberg: “He wants to set up a meeting between Trump and his friend Marcos Pereira, the Brazilian trade minister, and Brazilian President Michel Temer, ‘creating an agenda for collaboration on commerce,’ in what he called, ‘a very delicate diplomatic thing.’”
Trump’s company cut ties with the Trump Rio de Janeiro tower after prosecutors launched an investigation into the building’s construction.
McClatchy: “Late Tuesday, the Trump Organization announced it is pulling out of a hotel in Rio de Janeiro after prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the construction project. Hours later, Donald Trump’s staff announced that the president-elect had spoken to Brazilian President Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia.”
Despite the damage it could cause to the United Kingdom’s economy, Trumpsupported Brexit because he predicted it would line his pockets.
Trump cited European Union bureaucracy hampering his business projects as the reason he supported Britain leaving the European Union.
Sunday Times: “‘I would personally be more inclined to leave, for a lot of reasons like having a lot less bureaucracy,’ he told the Sunday Times. ‘But I am not a British citizen. This is just my opinion.’”
Trump: “I would want to go back to a different system. A lot of what has happened, and I have dealt with the European Union, it is very, very bureaucratic, it’s very, very difficult. I have a specific job where it is much, much more difficult to get the job going.” [Good Morning Britain, ITV, 5/16/16]
Trump welcomed a fall in the value of the British pound because it would help his properties in the United Kingdom.
Sunday Times: “Mr. Trump said he thought that ‘Brexit is going to end up being a great thing’ and welcomed the fall in the value of the pound for having helped to boost the attractiveness of British products abroad.”
Trump: No I don't want to have a plummeting pound, but if it does plummet I do well, and if it does well, I do well. I do well in either case. That's what I do. I do well.” [Trump Press Availability, Aberdeen, Scotland, 6/25/16]