Donald Trump’s businesses have certainly benefitted from his campaign for president, but with so many conflicts of interest, will he still be able to reap the benefits while serving in the White House?
During the sixth GOP primary debate in South Carolina in January, when moderator and Fox Business Anchor Maria Bartiromo asked Trump whether he would place his assets in a blind trust, the now president-elect responded in the affirmative, then defined the future of the Trump Organization as something that is the opposite of a blind trust.
“Well, I don’t know if it’s a blind trust if Ivanka [Trump], Don [Trump Jr.] and Eric [Trump] run it,” he said in reference to the company, which encompasses real estate, sales, marketing investing, brokerage and property management and is run by himself and his three aforementioned children. “I don’t know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives and I wouldn’t ever be involved because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country, anything.”
Trump’s global financial ties are extensive. In 2012, for example, Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Trump Towers Mall in Istanbul with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a major player in the Syrian civil war, and his wife, Hurriyet Daily News reported at the time.
Trump and his children’s real estate investments in Russia and former Soviet states could also interfere with U.S. sanctions against the country for its annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
“The level of business amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars—what he received as a result of interaction with Russian businessmen,” Sergei Millian, the head of a U.S.-Russia commerce group with ties to Trump’s realty business, told ABC News.
In India, according to an extensive report on Trump’s corporate conflicts of interest from Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, police and state government officials are investigating whether the Trump Towers Pune project was built on land illegally obtained by the Trump conglomerate’s business partner. Add to that Trump’s dealings with the fraud-mired South Korean firm Daewoo Engineering and Construction, as reported by Eichenwald, who has been enumerating all of Trump's conflicts of interest via Twitter.
He also has golf courses in United Arab Emirates, Ireland and Scotland, hotel properties in Brazil, Canada and Panama and real estate in South Korea, Uruguay and the Philippines. While the U.S. maintains friendly relations with most of those countries, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has engaged in widely-condemned mass killings of drug users and dealers.
Unlike every modern presidential candidate, Trump has yet to release his tax returns, which would give a more complete picture of his sources of income, and his company is not publicly traded, so the full extent of his international dealings remains to be seen.