WASHINGTON – First came the news that a Chinese government company had signed to help build a project in Indonesia that would include a Donald Trump brand hotel and golf course. Then, days later, the president tweeted that his administration would ease sanctions against a Chinese smartphone manufacturer accused of espionage. "Too many jobs in China lost," he wrote.
Ethics watchdogs and political opponents called last week's events a blatant Trump case that seems to exchange foreign favors for his company because of changes in government policy, exactly the kind of situation they predicted would happen when the tycoon Real estate become a politician will refuse to part with their expanding business interests.
And they say that such negotiation will probably become business as usual, without the control of a Congress led by Republicans, court cases that could take years and a public that was not enthusiastic about the obscure constitutional prohibition of accepting emoluments or benefits of foreign governments without the approval of Congress.
"It's a subject that seems highly technical and complex, and it's hard to link to everyday life," said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is leading a demand for emoluments filed by some 200 members of Congress.  005] "But when you bring home the reason for the emoluments clause, that is, to avoid conflicts of interest, for the president to act only for the benefit of the United States, not for his own interest, then the people he should understand that taking that benefit compromises his priorities, "Blumenthal said.
Such concerns have haunted Trump since he took office. Your hotel in Washington, a few steps from the White House, has become a magnet for foreign governments seeking to influence its administration, including groups linked to Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Trump's financial disclosure last week showed that the hotel received more than $ 40 million in revenue last year. To dispel fears of conflict, Trump promised to give the US Treasury. UU The profits of stays abroad in their hotels, which reached $ 151,470. His company did not want to say how that figure was calculated.
A national survey of Quinnipiac University published in March revealed that 57 percent of Americans believe that Trump is not honest. Still, in the last Quinnipiac survey last month, Trump's job approval rating stayed at 41 percent, matching the highest mark of his presidency.
Shana Gadarian, a political psychologist at Syracuse University, said that those who pay attention to politics tend to be more partisan and often reserve information that does not match their beliefs.
"As long as you like this administration," he said, "you could say that this is the way you do business, this is not a concern."
If there was a quid pro quo in the China-Indonesia agreement, similarly, it depends on who you ask.
An Indonesian company, MNC Land, confirmed last week that it hired the subsidiary of China's state-owned Metallurgical Corp. to build a theme park in its Lido City development on the outskirts of Jakarta. MNC Land three years ago reached an agreement to include a Trump brand hotel, 400 luxury villas and condominiums, and an 18-hole golf course.
MNC Land said that the Trump Organization "has no relationship" with the theme park that the Chinese company is building. He also said that the news reports that a $ 500 million loan backed by the Chinese government for the project had been signed.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.
James Schultz, a former White House member of Trump's lawyer, said the argument that Trump was violating the emoluments clause simply because he is building a theme park near a Trump hotel property is "unlikely."
Only 72 hours after the agreement was announced, Trump sent a tweet that marked what appeared to be a significant investment in the government's stance on the massive Chinese telephone company ZTE and on Trump's "America Primero" foreign policy .
The American intelligence community warned about the ties perceived by the Chinese smartphone manufacturer with the Chinese government and its possible use for remote surveillance. ZTE has been fined in recent years for sending US products to five embargoed countries, including Iran and North Korea. The Pentagon banned ZTE phones in retail stores from military bases because the devices could pose a security risk. And the Trump administration ordered a seven-year halt in the US shipments of microchips and software that are at the heart of most of ZTE's telecommunications equipment.
That ban was particularly devastating for ZTE and its 75,000 employees, with the company recently announcing it was stopping operations.
Trump tweeted that he was working with the president of China "to give the massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast." Too many jobs in China lost. The Department of Commerce has been instructed to do so! "
Don Fox, the former general counselor of the US Office of Government Ethics, said that the Chinese" knew exactly what they were investing in "with the treatment in Indonesia." It also highlights the credulity of that the president was not aware of this when he made his favorable comments about ZTE. "
Three pending lawsuits, which could take years to litigate, are probably the key to unraveling whether such commercial dealings, in addition to the various property reservations of Trump by lobbyists, foreign governments, corporate and political interests, constitute emoluments, the president's lawyers have discussed it.
"It's our only real remedy," Blumenthal said of the cases. "It may sound like a sign of frustration and inertia. , but the founders gave us this one remedy. … We need a judge to order the president to obey the law. "
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