Was there a Trump Argentina phone call in which President-elect Donald Trump asked Argentina’s current President Mauricio Macri for a favor in regard to a building Trump is attempting to construct in Buenos Aires? Obviously – if there was – this would in the minds of some represent the kind of conflict of interest many were concerned about with a Donald Trump presidency.
Trump Argentina Call Details
According to one report, during a congratulatory phone call that Argentina’s President Macri made to Donald Trump following his victory in the 2016 election, Trump brought up the topic of a building he and several business associates have been attempting to construct in Buenos Aires.
This building – a $100 million project – was delayed for various reasons, including the importation of building materials and the expiration of one or more permits. Apparently, these permits were being delayed by the legislature, and according to this report Trump attempted to get the president of Argentina to do him – the President-elect of the United States – a favor by pushing the paperwork along.
As reported by PRI, award-winning print and television journalist Jorge Lanata broke this story in the well-respected Argentinian newspaper La Nacion. Lanata has a good reputation as a journalist in his country, but of course a reputation alone doesn’t necessarily prove the accuracy of his report.
But there have been other indications that Trump isn’t being as careful about avoiding conflicts of interest as previous presidents. His decision to – ostensibly – place his business interests in the hands of his children is further evidence of this.
Trump Conflicts of Interest
There has been an ongoing concern in both Democratic and Republican circles about the potential for conflicts of interest arising between Donald Trump’s business investments and holdings and his future duties and responsibilities as president of the United States.
The Trump Argentina phone call discussion – if it actually happen the way Jorge Lanata reported it – would represent clear evidence that these concerns were well-founded. And the implications for U.S. foreign policy abroad are considerable, since foreign diplomats might feel they have to curry favor with the president of the United States.
If the Argentinian episode happened as discussed above, it’s apparently not an isolated incident. As reported by CNN, only days after winning the 2016 election and the presidency, Donald Trump and his family met with a group of prominent Indian business executives. The photos of the meeting were published on Facebook.
According to Media Matters, one of the executives involved apparently admitted the business advantages Trump would enjoy by being president of the United States, saying, “To say, ‘I have a Trump flat or residence’ — it’s president-elect branded. It’s that recall value. If they didn’t know Trump before, they definitely know him now.” This would certainly seem like a potential conflict of interest.
Denials from Trump Team
As reported by The New Haven Register, the Donald Trump transition team – formally the Donald Trump campaign team – vehemently denies that any such suggestion was made during the conversation between Trump and President Macri. But of course, one could hardly expect them to say anything else.
Copy & Paste macri is the blueprint for Trump isn't he? https://t.co/Er04b0hJ6w— Nerses Chopurian (@CHOPURIAN) November 21, 2016
Similarly, President Macri and the Argentinian government have also denied that this was included as a part of the discussion. Instead, President Macri claims that the conversation revolved around him congratulating Trump for his victory, as well as a chat about their previous association. It turns out Trump and Macri have known each other for years.
At the moment, other than the report provided by Jorge Lanata in La Nacion, there is no proof that Trump and Macri talked about his stalled building development in Buenos Aires. But even putting the accuracy of this latest report about the Trump Argentina phone call aside, it still makes clear why a number of politicians in the United States have genuine concerns about Trump’s ability to distance himself from his business interests.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]