RUMOR. Donald Trump Just Tried To Cut A Real Estate Deal With A Foreign Leader

Yesterday I posted on the kaleidoscope of ethical issues Donald Trump is courting by retaining control of his business interests and why it is imperative that he divest himself of his holdings. Quick.

Now we have a hint that Trump may not only not liquidate his private financial interests but that he may be unclear on exactly where the line is between being president and being head of his business conglomerate.

Over the weekend a story appeared in the Indian press that raised some eyebrows:

US president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work when he took time out from planning the transition to his presidency in January to meet with his Indian business partners.

“He (Donald Trump) was praising Modiji as always and added that he is doing a great job,” Sagar Chordia, director of Panchshil Realty, told ET by phone from New York. Trump, he added, expects to strengthen and expand US’ relationship with India.

Trump met Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta at Trump Tower, New York on Tuesday noon (US time). The discussion revolved around Indian economy and Modi. Trump’s family, including daughter Ivanka and sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr, was also present. Mehta is managing partner of Tribeca Developers, Trump’s India representative responsible for supporting the brand in the country.

Trump currently has five luxury projects in India including a Trump Tower, a 46-apartment block with Panchshil Realty in Pune, and an under-construction 300-apartment project in Mumbai’s Lower Parel with the Lodha Group. These are not equity joint ventures. Trump has lent his name to the projects in return for payment.

This is not necessarily illegal, per se, but it is wildly inappropriate for Trump to be meeting with his Indian business partners at a time when he should not have any interest in whatever it is that they are doing.
Now another national press is reporting on a more troubling story. Via TalkingPointsMemo

For a number of years, Trump and his Argentine partners have been trying to build a major office building in Buenos Aires. The project has been held up by a series of complications tied to financing, importation of building materials and various permitting requirements.

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.

This comes from one of Argentina’s most prominent journalists, Jorge Lanata, in a recent TV appearance. Lanata is quoted here in La Nacion, one of Argentina’s most prestigious dailies. Said Lanata: “Macri called him. This still hasn’t emerged but Trump asked for them to authorize a building he’s constructing in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t just a geopolitical chat.”

It is no suprise that the author of this, TPM’s Josh Marshall, is larding a little bit of truth with a large helping of lies and balderdash. The project had been largely approved before Trump was ever elected. That said, it doesn’t make the story, if true, less shocking.

At this stage this story is a rumor that is being denied.

However, the fact that it is a rumor, though a very believable one when viewed in context with everything else, should be a call to Mike Pence and Reince Priebus and anyone else in Trump’s inner circle with a brain… I can’t seem to name any other names right now… to tell Trump that his is putting his entire presidency in jeopardy by this kind of nonsense. Because these rumors are going to persist and grow and eventually they are going to come to represent both Trump and the GOP.