On Wednesday, Hurriyet, a Turkish newspaper, reported that one of President-elect Donald Trump’s adult sons recently visited a resort near the city of Antalya “for a hunting trip, upon the invitation of a Turkish businessman.”
The report named Eric Trump, but a Trump Organization official later contacted ThinkProgress and said Don Jr. was actually the son who traveled to Turkey. They didn’t dispute that the trip occurred but said Don Jr. was spending time with a friend, not conducting business.
Trump “went wild deer hunting in a rural area of the Finike district after obtaining permission from the general directorate of national parks,” according to the report. “After a three-day stay, [he] departed from Antalya Airport with his bodyguards, receiving additional security guards upon his arrival at the airport.”
That news comes on the same day that Trump’s father, President-elect Donald Trump, announced plans to turn over operational control of the Trump Organization to three of his adult children — Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka. But the move, coming amid mounting constitutional concerns about the conflicts of interest Trump will face as president, doesn’t address the fundamental problem, as Trump will retain ownership and continue to financially benefit from his company’s international projects.
Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka also serve on his transition team. Instead of creating a firewall between his business interests and duties as America’s president-elect, Trump has co-mingled the two. Two weeks ago, Trump’s team publicized a photo of Ivanka sitting in on her father’s first meeting with a foreign head of state, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Ivanka Trump sat in on her father's meeting today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, per handout photo pic.twitter.com/tEbfYYeJFA
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) November 18, 2016
The Trump Organization does business in many countries and its operations are particularly extensive in Turkey. As the New York Times recently detailed, Istanbul is home to two buildings, each nearly 40 stories tall, bearing Trump’s name. Trump Towers Istanbul features luxury towers, offices, and a shopping mall. Additionally, the Trump Home Collection line features luxury furniture built at a factory in Manisa Province.
Trump Organization’s foreign operations in Turkey could influence decisions Trump will have to make as president.
These concerns were highlighted on Tuesday by news that the government of Bahrain is holding an event in December at the Trump International Hotel, located just blocks away from the White House. Will Trump be reluctant to take action to curb Bahrain’s reported human rights abuses because the country is also a customer?
We don’t know what the “Turkish businessman” was after in inviting Don Jr. Trump to partake in one of his favorite pastimes at a Turkish resort. The Trump Organization said the trip was to spend time with a friend and not to talk shop. But we do know the president-elect is aware of his business interests in Turkey and will continue to be even if Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka are in charge of the Trump Organization’s day-to-day operations.
As Richard Painter, a former chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush, told ThinkProgress earlier this month, “the only good answer” to Trump’s conflict of interest problems would be for him to sell the Trump Organization entirely. But since Trump doesn’t appear to be interested in doing that, Painter believes Trump will be violating a constitutional prohibition on presidents receiving money from foreign governments on his first day in office.
The original version of this story has been corrected to reflect information provided by the Trump Organization.