Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 8:00am

On Donald Trump, the Trump Organization & the Trump Foundation

Yesterday evening Rachel Maddow teased a big article coming out in Newsweek today, and here it is: How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security.

Stop what you’re doing and go read that article. It’s long, but it’s important. Seriously. Click right here. Read it.

via GIPHY

Donald Trump has his fingers in a lot of pies, and one of the things that allows him to do that is the Trump Organization, a massive business conglomeration. Through the Trump Organization, Donald Trump – and his whole family – has money coming in and going out to organizations, businesses, and people all over the world, including but not limited to interests in the Middle East, China, Russia, Turkey, and so on.

A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities.

It’s a private organization, so a lot of what happens through the Trump Organization is hidden from view. We don’t get much by way of public accounting there, which is kind of a big deal since it funnels umpteen millions of dollars into the Trump family’s bank accounts.

And let’s make clear – this would not be an issue if Trump weren’t running for president. As far as we can tell at the moment, the Trump Organization isn’t doing anything illegal, so in a normal world where a blowhard racist orange weren’t running for president the Trump Organization wouldn’t matter a bit.

The problem is that Donald Trump is running for president, and he’s receiving millions and millions of largely undocumented dollars through the Trump Organization, from interests which could easily compromise the national security of the United States.

Many foreign governments retain close ties to and even control of companies in their country, including several that already are partnered with the Trump Organization. Any government wanting to seek future influence with President Trump could do so by arranging for a partnership with the Trump Organization, feeding money directly to the family or simply stashing it away inside the company for their use once Trump is out of the White House.

Notably, that would be completely legal for a President Trump to do.

The article offers several examples of the many conflicts of interest a President Trump would face – or take advantage of. If he has a massive business deal cooking in India – as he currently does – will his being president force India to make regulatory concessions they might not have made otherwise? IE, can a President Trump essentially force a country to let him break laws, because they don’t want to piss off the US and he wants to build a giant skyscraper where they won’t let him?

Even worse – the Trump Organization makes money off nuclear technologies, like power plants and bombs. Will a President Trump be pushing nuclear proliferation? Since candidate Trump already is, I’m going to hazard a “yes” on that one.

Another conundrum: Turkey is at war with the Kurds, America’s allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Kurdish insurgent groups are in armed conflict with Turkey, demanding an independent Kurdistan. If Turkey cuts off the Trump Organization’s cash flow from Istanbul, will Trump, who has shown many times how petty and impulsive he can be, allow that to influence how the U.S. juggles the interests of these two critical allies?

Newsweek’s article lists easily a dozen different conflicts of interest engendered by a President Trump and his Trump Organization, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And I know, I know, “conflicts of interest” makes the whole thing sound wishy-washy and unimportant, but it’s really, super important. “Conflicts of interest” in this situation means “siding with enemies to make money and using the threat of the United States to force business partners to break laws.”

But wait, there’s more! Donald Trump is also tied up with the Trump Foundation, a “charitable organization” that basically funnels money from other people, businesses and organizations into things Trump wants. And, it turns out, the Trump Foundation may have been involved in illegal activities. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just opened an investigation into it.

My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of nonprofits in New York state. And we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view. We have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws that govern charities in New York. – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

This is almost certainly in response to the Trump Foundation’s $25,000 donation to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, after which she – coincidentally, I’m sure – decided not to join the New York state investigation into Trump University.

And people think Hillary Clinton is the shady one.

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