Former President Donald Trump made tens of millions of dollars in foreign business deals while he was in office, pointing to numerous potential conflicts of interest, a report from a nonprofit government watchdog reveals.
The report, released by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on Thursday, examines Trump’s tax records and financial data, finding that the Trump Organization made up to $160 million in international business deals while Trump was president.
Trump and his family assured the American people during his campaign that he wouldn’t be influenced by his company’s international business dealings as president — but he refused to financially divest from the Trump Organization while in office, the report pointed out. Though he handed over management of the business to his adult sons, Trump claimed only that they wouldn’t engage in any new business contracts, failing to address deals the company made before he became president.
But Trump and his family couldn’t even stick to that standard. “When it came to foreign conflicts of interest, Trump and his company pledged to pause foreign business. They did not,” CREW wrote in its report.
The organization went on:
The full extent to which Trump’s foreign business ties influenced his decision making as president may never be known, but there is plenty of evidence that Trump’s actions in the White House were influenced — if not guided — by his financial interests, subverting the national interests for his own parochial concerns.
The report provided several examples of Trump prioritizing his own financial interests as president.
During his presidential campaign in 2015, for example, Trump told his followers that he liked the Saudi Royal Family “very much” due to their business deals with the Trump Organization, which he continued to benefit from after taking office. Later, when Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered in accordance with orders from the Saudi government, Trump defended the royal family, publicly questioning U.S. intelligence reports that contradicted his stance, CREW said in its report.
CREW also noted Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, an action that benefited neighboring Turkey, where the Trump Organization did business. In another instance, the former president held off on enacting tariffs on Argentina until he received approval for trademarks for his company, the watchdog pointed out.
The Trump organization also broke its promise not to sign on to new international business deals. A post-presidential analysis from The Washington Post found that the Trump Organization worked with the Indonesian government to create transportation access to a residence and hotel estate he owned in the country. The company also made a deal while Trump was president to build more than 500 houses in Scotland.
Other analyses have similarly revealed Trump’s huge profits from domestic and international business dealings as president. According to one estimate, Trump made around $1.7 billion in the four years he was in office, millions of which came at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.
CREW concluded its report by suggesting that there are likely instances of corruption that have yet to be uncovered.
Trump’s tax records and other financial documents leave “much to discover about the extent to which he truly abused the presidency for his own profit,” the organization said.
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