October 22, 2019

Udall, Duckworth, Warren, Blumenthal Seek Information on the Trump Organization’s Business in Turkey

Senators raise questions about financial conflicts of interest between the Trump family’s lucrative real estate deal in Istanbul at a sensitive time in U.S.-Turkish relations, including the Trump administration’s sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops in Northern Syria

Then-candidate Donald Trump admitted he had “a little conflict of interest” with Turkey in 2015

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) requested that Trump Organization executive vice president Jill A. Martin 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 letter seeks information necessary for Congress to understand Trump’s self-proclaimed “conflict of interest”— two Trump Towers in Istanbul— in the context of tense 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. 

Specifically, the senators are calling attention to the substantial revenue the Trump Organization continues to earn in the form of a licensing agreement for Trump Towers Istanbul-Sisli, given recent developments in U.S. foreign policy and the sensitive nature of current U.S.-Turkish relations.

“President Trump recently announced a decision to precipitously withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria and open the door to a Turkish military offensive against Kurdish forces who have been valuable partners of the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State,”the senators wrote today. “In addition, the Trump Administration has been repeatedly pressed to extradite an individual of interest to Turkey and forgo criminal prosecution of Turkish individuals and banks involved in bribery and fraud as part of evading U.S. sanctions on Iran. Turkey has also purchased Russian air defense technology over the strong objections of the United States. Finally, because President Erdogan is scheduled to meet with President Trump in Washington, D.C. next month, it is important for Congress to be aware of the President’s financial interests that could influence the formation of U.S. policy during those discussions.”

The senators raised questions about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ability to leverage regulatory power over the Trump Organization’s licensing deal. Udall, Duckworth, Warren and Blumenthal are requesting information about any contacts the Trump Organization may have had with the Erdogan government about foreign policy decisions.

“According to public financial disclosure forms filed by the President, President Trump has personally earned between $1.2 million and $7 million in royalties from entities affiliated with Trump Towers Istanbul-Sisli since becoming President,” the senators continued. “Additionally, Ivanka Trump, who serves as an adviser to the President in the White House, has listed in public financial disclosures that she is a license holder in Trump Marks Istanbul II LLC.”

“We agree with the President in his assertion that the Trump Organization’s dealings in Turkey present a major financial conflict of interest to this Administration and are greatly concerned this may be influencing U.S. foreign policy towards the Erdogan government,” the senators said.

The senators described the business ties between the Trump family and the Turkish government further, noting that “the opening ceremony of the property in 2012 was attended by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggesting an interest in the property from the highest levels of the Turkish government.” They also noted that “[i]n June of 2016, President Erdogan stated ‘[t]hey put that brand on his building and it must be swiftly taken down’, following remarks by then-candidate Donald Trump that he found offensive, highlighting the potential for adverse actions against the Trump Organization.”

The senators concluded with four questions seeking crucial information in two weeks’ time from Ms. Martin regarding the total monetary value of Trump business interests in Turkey; the licensing process of business interests in Turkey; the approval process or authority for removal of the Trump brand from the building, and any contacts between Trump organization executives and the U.S. or Turkish government regarding U.S.-Turkey relations.

The full text of the senators’ letter is available HERE.