I Have Read the Kurt Eichenwald “Blockbuster” on Trump in Newsweek

by teacherken –


which went live at 5:30 this morning on Newsweek’s website.  The full title is How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security.  To put it simply, while some what Eichenwald presents has at least partially been visible and known, putting together something that is admittedly still an incomplete picture of Trump’s overseas business relationships and all the conflicts of interest they represent with US foreign policy is exceedingly troubling, both because his children seem to want to stay actively involved, and because it is hard not to know the impact when your name is all over the place.

This is the key.  Most of these are NOT Trump developments — they involve licensing for the use of his name.  It seems an increasing portion of Trump’s income has come from such business arrangements, especially since he became internationally famous as the result of The Apprentice.

One issue that Eichenwald does not address, but which occurred to me has to do with taxes.  As a real estate investor Trump is able to effectively shelter all income from active real estate development activities from federal taxes.  While I am certainly no tax expert, I believe the same does not apply when he is effectively passive, that is, he has put up no money of his own, either directly or borrowed, but instead merely receives a revenue stream from the use of his name.  Depending upon how these arrangements are done, it is quite possible that he does have tax liabilities from these operations, and then the question is whether he can show enough of a ‘loss’ through his active endeavors to offset all tax liabilities.

Also, given the tax laws, he may gain some offsets from foreign tax liabilities as a result of overseas licensing of his name.  That could well mean that Trump pays more in net income taxes to other nations than he does to the US!!

It would be incredibly complicated to fully explore, given that each licensing agreement and each co-development is legally a separate entity.

The conflicts are immense — in Saudi Arabia, in Russia, in Ukraine, in India, in Turkey… all countries that are important to some degree in our global relations.  There are business activities in Dubai, and elsewhere in the Middle East. In many cases these deals get Trump heavily involved in internal political conflicts within the countries.  Eichenwald explains a few of these in detail.

Rachel Maddow share a few paragraphs of the text last night , without saying quite how she got them.

Here are the first three paragraphs of the article:

If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States?

Throughout this campaign, the Trump Organization, which pumps potentially hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump family’s bank accounts each year, has been largely ignored. 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.

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 also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. 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.

As I said, I have read the article.  Once, so far.

I’m not sure it is quite the blockbuster Eichenwald intimitated.

In the meantime he has solicited on Twitter information about Trump’s health and medical matters, and claims he is getting information on that request.  Those tweets were a bit confusing for a while last night.

So maybe not a blockbuster, but certainly an article that raises at least by implication and quite conceivably can be construed as presenting a prima facie  case of conflicts that cannot be addressed by blind trusts, or by any action, so long as the licensing agreements remain in place.

It is well worth the read.

Let me add a few more snips:

None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners.

The next is very important:

… the identity of every partner cannot be discovered if Trump reverses course and decided to release his taxes. The partnerships are struck with some of the more than 500 entities disclosed in Trump’s financial disclosure forms; each of those entities has its own records that would have to be revealed for a full accounting of all of Trump’s foreign entanglements to be made public.

This IS a very important story.  It is not one easily grasped.  Therefore I have serious doubts how closely it will be examined in broadcast media, although I suspect there will be some elements of it tonight on one or more of the MS-NBC shows.

It might be very interesting for someone to have not only Eichenwald on a show, but also David Cay Johnston, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Trump’s domestic business activities, including doing business with mob-owned entities.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos