Trump's global business ties: funny on late-night TV, but not so entertaining when it comes to national security
Whether Donald J. Trump's admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is simply a one-sided man crush on Trump's part or a full-fledged bromance between the two is debatable.
But one thing is certain. It's great fodder for late-night television comedy skits.
On last night's The Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon looked at the pros and cons of the relationship between the Republican presidential nominee and the divisive Russian autocrat.
Of course, The Donald's taxes were part of the presentation.
As Trump might phrase it, some people say that one reason the GOP White House wannabe refuses to show us his taxes is because they would detail questionable Russian business ties.
While that possibility is, at least so far, simply speculation, a story out today reveals that Trump has a huge web of business connections to many countries and their also-controversial leaders.
And those relationships underscore why Trump's sometimes questionable global ties are much more serious than mere TV joke punchlines.
Worrisome global business ties: The Trump Organization is an intentional company, founded by Trump and in which he still is very active, that has partnerships, a large number of them undisclosed, all over the world, according to a story published today by Newsweek.
Many of these businesses are very tied to different political parties, different politicians in parts of the world where businesses need that kind of connection, says Kurt Eichenwald, author of "How the Trump Organization's Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security."
The interests of those businesses and politicians, he says, often work directly against the interests of U.S. national security.
"Right now, you have Donald Trump in a situation where he makes money by aiding the people whose interests don't coincide with America's," Eichenwald said in discussing his story and research on CNN today.
Russia is one of the countries that Eichenwald cites in his Newsweek article
Conflict of interest of presidential proportions: The report examines the Trump Organization, which Eichenwald characterizes as "a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world."
The business arrangement, according to the story, "pumps potentially hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump family's bank accounts each year."
But until now, writes Eichenwald, the Trump Organization has been largely ignored, primarily because as a private enterprise, its businesses, partners and investors are hidden from public view, "even though they are the very people who could be enriched by — or will further enrich — Trump and his family if he wins the presidency."
While there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities, Eichenwald says the group's web of contractual entanglements, which could not simply be just canceled, present potential problems for Trump and the United States.
Again borrowing one of Trump's favorite inquiry methods, some people would inevitably and apparently with good reason, question whether a President Trump is acting for the good of the country or the good of his personal bottom line.
Would Trump surrender control of his global organization and stay out of the loop in its operations? Does that sound like The Donald to you? And even if he says that's what he will do, how could that be verified?
The questions Eichenwald raises in his article and which are sure to prompt even more by presidential scholars, pundits and every voter are real and potentially scary, both on security and economic grounds. And they need to be answered because, as Eichenwald notes:
"If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires."
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