Extreme vetting and due diligence are standards which President Donald Trump wishes to be exercised by everybody except for himself and his family. Before him, almost every presidential candidate, and for that matter every candidate for public office, had felt duty-bound to reveal his or her own finances. Mr. Trump, however, refused to divulge his finances and the taxes he had paid, but he got elected anyway. He did, however, pledge to extricate himself from his businesses, delegating the day-to-day operation to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, but he continues his financial interest in the company.
Experts on the matter of ethics, including the Office of the Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, say that President Trump is not doing enough to divest himself from his business interests. That kind of involvement will open the presidency up to criticism that those interests may color how the US approaches that country, since he has international business interests around the world, especially in some volatile spots.
Already, Mr. Trump’s administration’s warm relations with Vladimir Putin and his soft spot regarding Russian issues are believed to be derived from his business interests in that country.
If those allegations are of a speculative nature, more factual criticism has recently been directed at the president and his business interests in one of the most corrupt states in the world, namely Azerbaijan.
In 2014, Trump announced a hotel project in Baku, in which he partnered with Anar Mammadov, the son of Azeri Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov, one of President Ilham Aliyev’s cronies. Mammadov is considered one of the most corrupt government officials, a standout even in Azerbaijan, well known for rampant corruption by the government. (Mammadov’s son had a recent fallout with First Lady Mehriban Aliyev’s clan, the Pasha Holding Group, having duped his partners in a business deal.)
The American public is exposed daily to such scandals, which have become common place. But Mr. Trump’s association, in doing business with corrupt governments, goes beyond business ethics to impact US laws and national security.