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This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: Kushner may have problems, but Trump's hotel raises lots of questions

The president's week may have been overshadowed by the Russia scandal, but he still has conflicts galore


Matthew Rozsa
June 10, 2017 10:30AM (UTC)

It may seem unnecessary to write about President Donald Trump's conflicts of interest when so much attention is being paid to the Russia scandal, but the fact remains that a president who has refused to fully divest himself from a massive business empire is one who will always be fraught with conflicts that may impede his ability to impartially serve the public interest.

Let us proceed.

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The Kushner family's company is trying to find a way to reimburse a $250 million loan from Chinese investors

The EB-5 visa program ostensibly exists to help combat unemployment and poverty. It allows foreign investors who spend at least $500,000 on projects with high unemployment or which require development for other reasons to receive a permanent resident visa in return. That said, the Kushner family's real estate company is having trouble obtaining a $250 million loan to reimburse Chinese investors who helped fund a tower in Jersey City, according to a report by Bloomberg. Although the Kushners would keep $50 million and use the rest to reimburse investors and pay off a mortgage, apparently the ongoing controversy over the Kushners using the EB-5 program for questionable means (the project does not necessarily help the less fortunate) is scaring away banks.

Saudi Arabia has spent a lot of money at the Trump International Hotel.  .  .

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is currently in the process of opposing an American terrorism law, has spent roughly $270,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., according to a report by USA Today. This included catering, lodging and parking expenses for the period between Oct. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 — that is, from a little more than a month before Trump was elected president to a little more than two months after he was inaugurated. The Trump Organization has said they will donate all of these profits at the end of the year, although it remains to be seen whether they'll follow through on that.

. . . but Trump International Hotel's conflicts don't stop there

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As a recent Time Magazine article pointed out, Trump's Washington hotel has become a bastion of power in its own right, even though the president is supposed to avoid mixing his private businesses with the official work of the government. One former Trump campaign adviser told the magazine that "of course we hang out there. Everyone hangs out there. Being in the Trump hotel’s lobby is a way to get people to know you." The conservative Heritage Foundation has loaned an American flag to the hotel, and as this series has noted already, guests who are willing and able to pay top dollar can interact with powerful domestic and foreign officials within the hotel.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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