WASHINGTON ― Exactly a week after winning the presidential election, DonaldTrump took time out to meet with Indian business partners and his three eldest children at Trump Tower in Manhattan. The meeting came despite the president-elect’s assurances that he was handing off his business to his children in a “blind trust” to avoid potential conflicts of interest while serving in the nation’s highest office.
Trump held the talks with business partners Sagar Chordia, Atul Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta on Tuesday, the Indian newspaper The Economic Times first reported. Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, who attended the meeting, are supposed to be heading the trust, managing their father’s assets and business portfolio. They also sit on the executive committee of the presidential transition team.
Two days later, the president-elect met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York City, his first visit from a foreign leader. Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, was also in attendance. She is supposed to be running the Trump Organization separate from her father’s administration to avoid any potential conflicts of interest or their appearance. The Trump family appears to be struggling mightily to avoid these conflicts.
“It looks to us that he’s clearly not able to maintain a blind trust and still keep the company under his ownership and, frankly, control,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “We really think that the best thing he can do is sell the company outside of the family and place the money from the sale into an actual blind trust.”
The Trump Organization is currently involved in five different projects in India, at least two of which are with the Chordias’ Panchshil Realty. Mehta is Trump’s personal representative to India through the company Tribeca Developers and works with other companies. Luxury condos built by Panchshil already bear Trump’s name in the Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune. Meanwhile, the Lodha Group is building a different Trump-branded condo in Mumbai. In the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, Trump is partnering with Ireo, another Indian developer, to build an office complex and M3M Group to build another residential condo tower.