Appearing on CNN’s New Day this morning, Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald explained that the interests of companies Donald Trump is involved with “often go directly against the interests of American national security.”
This assertion speaks to a fear many Americans have about the Republican candidate’s love of Vladimir Putin and financial ties to foreign banks, as well as to warnings issued by others. These include Foreign Policy‘s David Rothkopf, who has pointed out that Trump “has hired top aides who worked closely with the Moscow regime and sought to take advantage of a shockingly overt campaign by Russian intelligence to interfere in the U.S. election cycle.”
How dangerous are Trump’s foreign business and political ties? First of all, it is difficult if not impossible to separate the two. Newsweek has stated that “a close examination…reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals…and contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled.”
“If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.”
Speaking of a report which appeared in Newsweek today, Eichenwald told host Alisyn Camerota that,
“[T]he entanglements are everywhere, but what the basic story found is that Donald Trump founded and continues to play a significant role in the Trump Organization, which is an international company that has partnerships that — a large number of them undisclosed, all over the world. And these are with small companies, large companies, businessmen that most Americans wouldn’t recognize their names, but many of them are very tied in to different political parties, different politicians. They’re in parts of the developing world where you need that kind of connection. And the interests of these businesses, the interests of these politicians,often go directly against the interests of American national security. So, right now you have Donald Trump in a situation where he makes money by aiding the people whose interests don’t coincide with America’s.”
Watch the interview courtesy of Media Matters for America:
Asked by co-host Chris Cuomo “what leads you to suspect that it would create a dangerous conflict?” Eichenwald mentioned long-time American partner in the Middle East, Turkey:
You have in Turkey a connection between Trump and a politically tied organization. In fact, it was so politically tied that when there was a project that was launched, the president of Turkey came out to stand there with Donald Trump. Well, the president of Turkey has now declared that to have been a major mistake. As you remember, he recently faced a coup, and what I am being told is that Turkey’s cooperation with the United States in terms of providing an airbase where we are able to launch bombers against ISIS would be at risk if Donald Trump was president. And, so, then you come down to who is Donald Trump going to side with? Is he going to try and repair relations with the Turkish government, or is he going to try and act on behalf of his investments and business partners there?
Camerota then brought up the well-known and controversial “entanglements between the Trump Organization and Russia and Ukraine.”
The Russian and Ukraine connections, the strongest is in Russia. Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, trademarked the name “Trump” back in 2008 for the use in certain deals. It met with an organization [with] which they tried to negotiate a deal. The head of that organization, who, again, very politically connected, very tied in to the Putin government, backed away from the deal because Trump wanted too much money. Well, now, in the future, you’re talking about giving money to either the family of the president of the United States or money that will go to the president of the United States if his company is in this blind trust.
And Eichenwald made absolutely clear that there is no comparison to be made between Trump’s business arrangements and the Clinton Foundation:
They have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Donald Trump is a billionaire because the money came from the Trump Foundation — I’m sorry, Trump Organization. Donald Trump’s continued financial — money is coming from these partnerships. Hillary Clinton’s foundation, or the Clinton Family Foundation, no money is going to the Clinton family. Money is going to buy AIDS drugs in Africa. There is not a financial — they talk about pay to play. First they have to get paid. They’re not. Trump is getting paid. And, so when you have a scenario like that — plus, the whole world will be on notice. Again, this is a guy who in these transactions was willing to do a deal with Muammar Gaddafi who was a renowned terrorist. And you talk about palling around with terrorists, but he was trying to get money from a Libyan government fund and, as a result, was feeding Muammar Gaddafi. So, there is no comparison. This is — any company in the world, if Donald Trump is president, can say, “let’s strike a deal with the Trump Organization and engage in some legal bribery of the American president.”
These are legitimate concerns, ones any informed voter should share. David Rothkopf’s assessment of Trump is chilling:
“If there were a more textbook example of the narcissistic, brutal personality type from which authoritarian thugs are made, it is hard to imagine. Trump is not just an American Berlusconi, he is our Putin- or Mugabe-in-waiting.”
Add his authoritarian inclinations to business ties that conflict with America’s best interests, and it is not hard to see Trump choosing his own self-interest, as he has in every case about which we have any knowledge. At the very least we have a right to ask whether, if Trump did anything to “make America great,” it would only be an incidental effect of actions he took to further enrich himself.