November 13, 2019

Udall: As Erdogan Visits White House, Trump Organization Refusing to Answer Questions on Business Interests in Turkey

Udall, Democratic senators set a November 12 deadline for response to questions about Trump’s financial conflicts of interest stemming from the Trump family’s lucrative real estate deal in Istanbul

Deadline came on same day of report that former Trump national security advisor John Bolton believes President Trump’s decisions on Turkey policy are motivated by personal or financial reasons

WASHINGTON – Today, as the Trump White House hosts Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.)said that the Trump Organization has failed to meet the deadline to respond to questions posed by Udall and three other senators. The senators sent a letter regarding the Trump Organization’s business in Turkey and potential conflicts of interest in Trump foreign policy toward the country.

In October, Udall and U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) requested that the Trump Organization provide information on the potential conflict of interest that President Trump’s financial dealings in Turkey may pose at a very serious time in U.S.-Turkish relations. The lawmakers are seeking information necessary for Congress to understand Trump’s self-proclaimed “conflict of interest”— Trump Towers in Istanbul— in the context of U.S.-Turkish relations surrounding the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops in Northern Syria and subsequent Turkish offensive, as well as arms sales, extradition requests, and investigations of violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The lawmakers set a deadline of Nov. 12 for a response, but the Trump Organization has thus far refused to answer the lawmakers’ important questions about how much money the Trump Organization is making from its Trump Towers licensing deal, what leverage Turkish authorities may have over those profits, and whether the Trump Organization or its Turkish business partners have been involved in discussions of U.S.-Turkish government relations. Recent reports from the New York Times and NBC News underscore the very real concerns that U.S. policy in regards to Turkey—at a very sensitive time—could be influenced by President Trump’s personal and financial interests.

Udall issued the following statement:

“Given the president’s surprising approach to U.S.-Turkey policy and unusual personal relationship with President Erdogan, it’s only logical to ask for information to determine the full extent of President Trump’s financial interests in Turkey that could be influencing his policy decisions — including on matters of sensitive foreign policy. After all, President Trump himself proclaimed that the Trump Towers in Istanbul are a conflict of interest. The Trump Organization’s failure to answer our legitimate questions is outrageous, but unfortunately, it’s not surprising.

“The American people deserve to have confidence that their president is acting on behalf of the country – not on behalf of his own bottom line. But the president who promised to drain the swamp is so ethically compromised, and carries with him such a tangled web of personal business conflicts, that no one can be sure whose interests he’s serving. By refusing to divest from his businesses, disclose his tax returns, or answer questions, the president has only himself to blame for the rampant concerns about what’s really motivating his national security decision-making.”