Sunday, November 27, 2016

There is a lot more to the Trump Argentina story

Like other international leaders, who were “blindly dialing into Trump Tower” following Donald Trump’s upset victory, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri had no idea how to contact the new president-elect of the United States. Macri asked his entire cabinet if anyone knew someone who could “urgently” connect him with the soon-to-be head of state.
They would have plenty to discuss: Macri was reportedly quite anxious to talk to Trump to ensure the cooperation that existed under President Obama on intelligence sharing, combating drug trafficking, scientific research, and other areas would continue. The two men — both heirs to real estate fortunes before entering politics — also have a decades-long history of personal and professional tension.
But the future U.S. president wasn’t an easy man to reach. Trump rejectedthe State Department’s help in fielding calls from around the world, and chose instead to wing it on unsecured phone lines.
Argentine press reported that it was Felipe Yaryura, the Trump family’s lead business partner in Argentina, who connected Macri’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra with Donald Trump’s son Eric. Yaryura was asked directlyif he set up the call, but “completely avoided answering.” Malcorra also refused to answer in a recent press conference when asked if the businessman served as the conduit between the two governments.
Eric Trump, both a key player in the president-elect’s transition team and the family’s real estate empire, told the Argentine government that his father was too busy to talk to Macri, and that Trump would reach out when his schedule permitted.
It wasn’t until November 14 that Trump carved out time for the South American leader. They spoke for 15 minutes. Prominent Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata reported that this call included a request from Trump that Macri help him secure the necessary permits to build a long-awaited downtown Buenos Aires Trump tower. Talking Points Memo was the first U.S. outlet to pick up the accusation, which both Macri and Trump swiftly denied.
Yet Reuters later confirmed that Ivanka Trump — who is a key player in the family business — was also on the call. The very next day, the investment group building the $100 million Trump-branded tower in Buenos Aires announced that they were moving full speed ahead, and that they “just barely need to take care of a few administrative details.”
U.S. media has largely breezed past the story. But foreign press reports paint a complicated picture of the relationship between the Argentine government, Trump’s Argentine real estate partners, and the emerging Trump administration. Those reports lend further support to the existing evidence that Trump and his adult children are leveraging the presidency to advance their business interests.

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