Breathtaking Venality: Trump Leaps to Help Chinese Company; Chinese Government Expected to Aid Trump’s Indonesian Hotel

May 14, 2018

Breathtaking Venality: Trump Leaps to Help Chinese Company; Chinese Government Expected to Aid Trump’s Indonesian Hotel

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Breathtaking venality. It’s hard to capture in words how shocking and outrageous is the confluence of events around President Donald Trump’s ZTE tweet and the Chinese government’s expected loan to an Indonesian resort with Trump-branded hotels and a golf course.

Trump’s Twitter pledge to intervene to rescue a Chinese company from law enforcement measures was startling enough. The tweet saying that he will aid Chinese telecom company ZTE contradicts his tough-on-China posture and is especially surprising given the national security issues raised about the firm.

But the most disturbing element is Trump’s readiness to interject himself into a corporate law enforcement measure as part of a deal with a foreign government – a move that threatens the integrity of all corporate law enforcement against foreign-based companies, and really against all companies, period.

It is no longer easy to be surprised by this administration. But the revelation that the ZTE tweet comes just days after the Chinese government reportedly committed to funnel $500 million in loans to an Indonesian resort development that includes Trump-branded hotels and a Trump-branded golf course is absolutely jaw-dropping.

Here are some questions the president and his administration must answer:

  • How is this possibly not a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause?

  • When did Trump become aware of the anticipated Chinese loan to the Indonesian resort project?

  • What are the terms of the expected loan?

  • Have Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the loan to the Indonesian resort project? Has it been discussed at any other governmental level?

There is no doubt that geopolitical considerations are informing Trump’s ZTE intervention. But is there anyone in America who believes that benefiting indirectly from a Chinese loan would NOT influence Trump’s decision to intercede?

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