Numerous unprecedented conflicts of interest that Donald Trump will bring with him to the White House were set forth by the New York Times over the long holiday weekend. The billionaire developer has significant business dealings in at least 20 countries, many of them major geopolitical actors that impact core American interests. “Several of Mr. Trump’s real estate ventures in India—where he has more projects underway than in any location outside North America—are being built through companies with family ties to India’s most important political party,” the newspaper reported. In that country, as in China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, and beyond, there will be countless occasions where the interests of the United States and the Trump Organization diverge.
Will President Trump ever put his business interests or the entrepreneurial efforts of his children, who plan to run his company, ahead of the American public’s interests? Journalistic organizations will try to play watchdog to guard against the possibility.
But as the New York Times itself acknowledges, “the true extent of Mr. Trump’s global financial entanglements is unclear, since he has refused to release his tax returns and has not made public a list of his lenders.” The president-elect’s refusal to meet the same transparency standards as every other recent inhabitant of the Oval Office, and his ascent to power at a time when foreign-reporting budgets are being slashed, suggest that the Fourth Estate will be unable to uncover all relevant conflicts.