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Ivanka Trump was closing business deal in Japan when pictured with Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe

Trump's business poses numerous conflicts of interest, as critics worry that foreign leaders will influence the White House through the President-elect's pocketbook

Feliks Garcia
New York
Monday 05 December 2016 16:33 GMT
Drew Angerer/Getty
Drew Angerer/Getty

Ivanka Trump was reportedly closing a business deal with a Japanese clothing company – of which the country’s government is a large stake holder – as she sat in on a meeting between her father, President-elect Donald Trump, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The New York Times says Ms Trump is finalising a licensing deal between her clothing brand and Sanei International.

The company held an exclusive viewing of Ivanka Trump products as the 35-year-old listened in on the 17 November meeting.

Trump puts Ivanka in on call to opposition leader

One particular area of concern in the Times’ report is the largest shareholder of Sanei is the government-owned Development Bank of Japan.

The Trumps have faced criticism for the extensive conflicts of interest that will take effect as the New York businessman takes office.

Mr Trump himself has promised to remove himself from his role at Trump Organisation, and transfer all operational elements to his three children, Ms Trump, Eric Trump, 32, and Donald Trump, Jr, 38.

Last week, Mr Trump tweeted that he “will be leaving my great business in total” to focus on the presidency – a job he has apparently admitted was bigger than he thought.

But Mr Trump has made clear that he is not legally obligated to fully divest from his company, as conflict of interest laws that govern most elected officials do not apply to US presidents.

“While I am not mandated to do this under the law,” he wrote, “I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

News of Ms Trump’s business dealings with Japan does little to allay worries of whether Trump Organisation matters will have an impact on the man in the Oval Office.

According to the report, Ms Trump began working with Sanei two years ago, before her father launched his bid for the presidency. Her brand and image have stoked enthusiasms of Japanese consumers.

“At the moment,” Sayumi Gunji, a lifestyle magazine editor present at the event, told the Times, “Ivanka is even more popular here than Mr Trump.”

However, there are no reports that indicate Ms Trump spoke with Mr Abe about her business dealings.

The Trump Organisation issued a statement regarding the transfer of management between now and Mr Trump’s 20 January inauguration. They said, “the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations.”

Another concerning element of Mr Trump’s ties to his businesses is the potential for diplomats and world leaders to influence US policy simply through the pocketbooks of the president.

“Giving to the Trump family would be seen by many foreign leaders as the way to get in with the Trump administration,” said Meredith McGehee, who works for the Campaign Legal Centre.

But while Mr Trump deflects concerns of conflicts of interest, he conceded one point: “The [Trump] brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before. I can’t help that, but I don’t care."

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