Despite his promise to step away from his company and put his business management into the hands of his children, Donald Trump broke that vow last week by meeting with three Indian business partners.
This raises the concern about whether the president-elect will be able to truly separate himself from his personal business interests.
Trump’s adult children, who have also been added to his transition team into the White House, also attended the meeting with Indian business partners, according to India newspaper Economic Times.
Trump met with Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia, and Kalpesh Mehta, who are working with Trump to build a luxury apartment building near Mumbai that will carry the Trump brand name. A photo of the four meeting together was posted to Twitter last Tuesday.
According to The New York Times, Sagar Chordia posted a photo of himself also meeting with Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump on Facebook on Wednesday.
Trump’s incoming administration seems to be fraught with conflict of interest problems. Trump vowed to hand off all his business interests to his adult children under a blind trust, then he assigned them, as well as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to his presidential transition team.
According to the New York Times, a spokeswoman for Trump described it as a “courtesy call” from the Indian real estate businessmen, who flew into the U.S. in order to congratulate Trump on his presidential win. Breanna Butler told the Times:
“It was not a formal meeting of any kind.”
Ms. Butler and Trump’s usual spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, declined to answer questions about whether the meeting with the Trump involved business discussions. However, the three Indian real estate executives were quoted in the Economic Times as having discussed business expansion with Donald Trump Jr. Kalpesh Mehta told the Economic Times:
‘We didn’t get a chance to talk about currency demonetisation with Mr Trump. But, his kids knew about it and they termed it as an incredibly bold move.’
Washington ethics lawyers have told The New York Times that the meeting with Indian business partners would raise conflict of interest questions, no matter the subject of the discussions. Robert L. Walker, former chief counsel of the Senate Ethics Committee, told the Times:
‘There may be people for whom this looks OK. But for a large part of the American public, it is not going to be OK. His role as president-elect should dictate that someone else handles business matters.’
Featured image via Getty Images