A meeting President-elect Donald Trump had with business partners from India last week has added to concerns about how he will separate his presidency from his sprawling business ventures in the US and abroad.
There were no announcements about this meeting by the Trump transition team, which otherwise sends out short readouts about all of the president-elect’s meetings in Trump Tower, where he is putting together his administration, or outside.
There was no response from the campaign about details or comments, till the filing of this report. A spokesperson did confirm it to The New York Times, and the three businessmen who are from Mumbai, posted pictures of their meeting on social media.
The businessmen who met Trump were Sagar Chordia, director of Panchshil Realty, Atul Chordia, also of Panchshil Realty, and Kamlesh Mehta, a managing director at real estate firm Tribeca Developers, which is said to represent Trump in India.
According to them, Trump was full of praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Trump’s three adult children — Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — who runs his business, were also present at the meeting.
The Trump Organization has five projects in India, including a Trump Tower, a 46-apartment block with Panchshil Realty in Pune, and an apartment project in Mumbai with Lodha Group. These are not Trump constructions, but projects using his brand.
But Trump’s meeting with business partners added to fears that the presidency could be used to further his business interests, or those of his family.
“There may be people for whom this looks OK,” said Robert L Walker, the former chief counsel of the Senate Ethics Committee, who advises corporations and members of Congress on government ethics issues.
“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,” he told The New York Times.
A $10,000 bracelet worn by Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s daughter, at an interview he did after his victory, along with his family, was promptly used in an advertisement by her company to market it, leading to all-around outrage. The company withdrew it shortly, blaming it on a junior staff member.
There have also been concerns about the Trump family’s role, generally. Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner has been a trusted and close adviser of the president-elect and there are reports of him joining the administration.
And The Washington Post has reported that Trump International, a DC luxury hotel the president-elect inaugurated during the campaign, recently invited representatives from embassies here to encourage them to have their leaders stay there during their visits.
There is pressure on the president-elect to announce a plan on how he will separate himself and his presidency from his multibillion-dollar businesses, and he and his lawyers have spoken of him handing over charge to a “blind trust”.
Trump has said he will be happy to transfer control, completely, to his children, who are already running large chunks of the business — Trump International, for instance, was Ivanka Trump’s project; and Eric Trump runs Trump’s wine venture.
Trump Organization has said that a plan was being put together to separate the president-elect from his businesses and that the structure that is eventually chosen will be fulfil all legal requirements.