Donald Trump used his meeting with Nigel Farage to bring up wind farms

President-elect claims his business interests were well known prior to the election, but does not mention his campaign promise to separate himself from the Trump Organisation before taking office

Charlotte England
Tuesday 22 November 2016 12:26
Donald Trump and Nigel Farage - A special relationship

Donald Trump allegedly used a meeting with Nigel Farage to encourage the Ukip leader to oppose offshore wind farms similar to the ones near his two Scottish golf courses that he claims are a "blight" on the landscape.

Mr Trump is accused of raising the issue with Mr Farage shortly after becoming US President-elect, fuelling concerns about the extent to which Mr Trump could exploit his official power to advance his business interests.

Mr Trump has previously challenged plans to build a wind farm near to one of his golf courses in Aberdeenshire, fighting all the way to the UK Supreme Court to block the renewable energy source. He lost his legal bid.

Mr Farage, who travelled to America to campaign for Mr Trump before the election, met the President-elect in New York. Arron Banks, an insurance executive who was a major financier of the Brexit campaign, and Andy Wigmore, a media consultant for the Leave.EU group, also attended.

In remarks that were later picked up by the New York Times, Mr Wigmore told the Sunday Express's political editor Caroline Wheeler: “One thing Mr Trump kept returning to was the issue of wind farms. He is a complete Anglophile and also absolutely adores Scotland which he thinks is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But he is dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become over-run with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape.”

Mr Trump recommended on Monday that Mr Farage be appointed British Ambassador to the United States.

Mr Wigmore told the New York Times on Monday: “He did not say he hated wind farms as a concept; he just did not like them spoiling the views."

In an email, he said he and Mr Banks would be “campaigning against wind farms in England, Scotland and Wales”.

Mr Wigmore said that Mr Banks had previously opposed wind farms and that they had been studying the issue on their own. However, he said, Mr Trump “did suggest that we should campaign on it”, and “spurred us in and we will be going for it”.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr Trump's transition office at first denied wind farms were discussed at the meeting and then declined to comment when pressed on the subject by the New York Times. Amanda Miller, vice president for marketing at the Trump Organisation, said she did not want to speak to the newspaper either.

The Aberdeenshire course has been controversial since the Scottish government approved its development in 2008, turning aside environmental concerns about the destruction of coastal sand dunes.

Despite the lengths he went to to build the resort, Mr Trump vowed to halt development on the golf course project if the wind farm went forward.

After he lost in court, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former first minister, called Trump a “three-time loser” — referring to his losses in various levels of the court system — while Mr Trump called Mr Salmond “a has-been and totally irrelevant".

Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his business interests were well-known prior to the election, suggesting they had been factored in to the vote. He added: "only the crooked media makes this a big deal!"

But during the election campaign, Mr Trump promised that to prevent a conflict of interest he would separate himself from the Trump Organisation entirely, handing the company to his children Ivanka, Donald Junior, and Eric Trump in a so-called blind trust.

In January, he said: “If I become president I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts.”

He added: “I wouldn’t ever be involved because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country, anything.”

But in addition to failing to separate himself from his business interests and hand control to his children, Mr Trump appears to have involved his children in the transition process.

Last week Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump joined their father in a meeting with three businessmen from India, with whom he is involved in a large development project.

Ms Trump, an executive in the Trump Organisation, sat in on a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Her jewellery company promoted a $10,800 bracelet she wore during a post-election appearance with her father on 60 Minutes.

One of Argentina’s most influential television programmes reported on Sunday that during a congratulations call from President Mauricio Macri of Argentina after the election, Mr Trump asked for Mr Macri’s support for a project to build an office tower in Buenos Aires.

A spokesman for Mr Macri denied the report on Monday, saying the two spoke only about official matters.

“That issue was not part of the conversation between President Mauricio Macri and President-elect Donald Trump,” said the spokesman, Ivan Pavlovsky. “The subject both leaders talked about was the institutional relationship, and they briefly mentioned the personal relationship they have had for years.”

The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, in an interview with Mr Macri published on Monday, quoted him as saying that he had also spoken with Mr Trump's daughter during the call.

The extent to which Mr Trump and his family appear to be mixing business and politics has led experts to caution he could be impeached as soon as on his first day in office. Steven Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University, told MSNBC on Monday he believed Mr Trump having opened a new hotel in Washington and started hosting visiting diplomats there could, alone, provide legal grounds for impeachment.

“The unequivocal message so far from the Trump Organisation is that ethics, conflicts of interest … in terms of ethical behaviour just don’t matter," Mr Schooner said.

Ethics experts in Washington told the New York Times they were disturbed at the report of Mr Trump’s apparent willingness to mix official duties as president-elect with his business concerns, saying actions like these threaten to compromise the integrity of the office of the president.

Norman Eisen — who served as the “ethics czar” in the Obama White House, appointed by the president to oversee rules related to conflicts of interest and lobbying — said these kinds of allegations, even if they are just rumors, demonstrate why Mr Trump must completely separate himself from involvement in his business enterprises.

Mr Eisen said that it was “an extraordinary transgression of the core idea of public service” for Mr Trump to speak with prominent Britons and a member of the European Parliament about his frustration with windfarms that harm views — at the same time as he has been involved in a fight over this exact issue.

Mr Trump’s actions are undermining public confidence in the office of the president, he said, adding, “I am profoundly troubled by it.”

Mr Trump. who has previously said he believes climate change is a "hoax" perpetuated by the Chinese "to make US manufacturing non-competitive", owns a golf course on the west coast of Scotland, Trump Turnberry, which he bought in 2014, and which has hosted four British Opens, and one on the east coast, Trump International Golf Links

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