President Donald Trump has a new conflict of interest thanks to a Trump Towers project in India that's enticing customers by promising a meeting with the president's son.
Pankaj Bansal, one of the developers of the Trump Towers project in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, has promised that Donald Trump Jr. will host the first 100 buyers in that property, according to The Washington Post. The news has raised serious questions about whether wealthy and politically connected Indian families could gain influence with the president by investing in one of his properties.
"They are auctioning off access to the first family in a foreign land. What is to stop a foreign national with interests before the U.S. government from purchasing a flat, or tagging along with someone who did, simply to ask Don Junior to raise some issue or concern with his father?" Norman L. Eisen, co-chairman of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told the Post.
Eisen's concerns were reinforced by the way that the deal was promoted by Amit Kumar, the senior manager of Tribeca Developers and one of the Indian partners involved in the real estate project.
"It will be a fantastic experience for the residents to be flown in to the U.S. for a special evening with Donald Trump Jr. It will be a sit-down dinner and the evening program will last four to five hours," Kumar told The New York Times. "If someone has money and also wants a lifestyle to match it, what better than a Trump Tower? And then add to it the chance of meeting the first family?"
This story is part of a pattern of behavior in which the Trump family has seemed to allow their business empire to raise conflicts for the president, particularly in India. Financial filings reveal that the Trump Organization has more business entities in India than any other foreign country, which has made the president liable to potential conflicts of interest due to the operations of his business empire there. In June Mangal Lodha, a real estate developer influential in the country's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, began to sell off properties in Trump Tower Mumbai, raising the specter that his doing so could potentially influence Trump.