Raising further questions about the president’s vast web of potential conflicts of interests, McClatchy reports that the Trump family business hired a Chinese state-owned construction company to do work on one of its golf club projects in Dubai.
Trump Organization partner DAMAC Properties awarded the contract to the Middle East subsidiary of the behemoth China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) “in the first two months of 2017,” McClatchy‘s Anita Kumar reports.
In January, just days before his inauguration, Donald Trump promised that his company would make no new foreign deals during his presidency.
CSCEC, Kumar reports, “was one of several accused by the World Bank of corruption for its role in the bidding process for a roads project in the Philippines and banned in 2009 from World Bank-financed contracts for several years.”
The new $32-million contract is to make a road on part of the luxury, Tiger Woods-designed Trump World Golf Club Dubai. It is set to open in 2018 and will be the second Trump golf course in Dubai.
The new reporting sparked tweets from several ethics experts who suggested the development was more evidence of Trump running afoul of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause:
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) September 11, 2017
The art of the emolumental deal …
Trump promised not to work with foreign entities. His company just did https://t.co/mm8MQjN6Ug
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) September 11, 2017
1) Trump pledges no foreign gov’t business as POTUS
2) His Dubai golfclub hires a Chinese gov’t construction companyhttps://t.co/siu5pmOtUB
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) September 11, 2017
According to McClatchy:
Hussain Sajwani, DAMAC’s wealthy chairman, who has family members listed in the Panama papers, offered the Trump Organization $2 billion in deals following Trump’s election, according to both sides. Trump said he rejected the offers to avoid conflicts of interest.
In February, the president’s sons (and heads of the Trump organization) Eric and Donald Trump Jr. were in Dubai to open the Trump International Golf Club.
“It’s rare in the world where you can be such great friends with a partner and that’s what we have right here,” Eric Trump said, according to the Associated Press. “Hussain,” he added, referring to the billionaire head of DAMAC, “is an amazing person and DAMAC is an amazing company.”
Sajwani, for his part, said at the time that “working with the Trump family and the Trump Organization was and continues to be a pleasure.”
“One of the Trump Organization’s subsidiaries received from $1 million to $5 million from DAMAC for running the golf club, according to a U.S. Federal Election Committee report submitted in May,” AP added.
In January, AP wrote of the Trump International Golf Club that it “encapsulates the host of worries of possible conflicts of interest circulating around a president who is very different from America’s past leaders.”
All services to the property—electricity, water, roads—come at the discretion of the government. The club’s bar will need government approvals to serve alcohol, not to mention other regulatory issues.
That could raise concerns about the so-called “emoluments clause” of the U.S. constitution, which bars public officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments and companies controlled by them without the consent of Congress.
Any negotiations involving the Trump brand at the least could create the appearance of impropriety, legal experts warn.
“He has so many properties that his business interests become an obvious target for both bribes and threats,” AP reported Robert W. Gordon, a legal historian and ethics expert who teaches at Stanford University, as saying. “The dangers really come in two directions: One is that foreign powers will try to use Trump’s interests as a way of bribing him into public policies in a way that are friendly to them or use them put pressure on him.”