Puffing the name

Damn, I missed one. Too busy documenting his tweets, no doubt. Ten days ago he met with three business partners from India, who tweeted a photo of the four of them thumbs-upping.

President-elect Donald J. Trump met in the last week in his office at Trump Tower with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai, raising new questions about how he will separate his business dealings from the work of the government once he is in the White House.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump described the meeting as a courtesy call by the three Indian real estate executives, who flew from India to congratulate Mr. Trump on his election victory. In a picture posted on Twitter, all four men are smiling and giving a thumbs-up.

The tweet seems to be gone now. At any rate – there’s no such thing as a “courtesy call” in this context. You can’t brush it off or polish it up by calling it that. This is the pres-elect putting his business interests ahead of his job as president.

The three Indian executives — Sagar Chordia, Atul Chordia, and Kalpesh Mehtahave been quoted in Indian newspapers, including The Economic Times, as saying they have discussed expanding their partnership with the Trump Organization now that Mr. Trump is president-elect.

Sagar Chordia did not respond to a request for a telephone interview. But in a series of text messages with The New York Times early Sunday, he confirmed that the meeting with Mr. Trump and members of his family had taken place, and that an article written about it in the Indian newspaper, which reported that one of his partners said they had discussed the desire to expand the deals with the Trump family, was accurate.

Washington ethics lawyers said that a meeting with Indian real estate partners, regardless of what was discussed, raised conflict of interest questions for Mr. Trump, who could be perceived as using the presidency to advance his business interests.

It’s pretty hard not to see it that way. What he’s selling here is his name, his brand, and it would be fatuous to try to claim that name and brand are not worth more after his election. Of course he’s using the presidency to advance his business interests.

“There may be people for whom this looks O.K.,” said Robert L. Walker, the former chief counsel of the Senate Ethics Committee, who advises corporations and members of Congress on government ethics issues. “But for a large part of the American public, it is not going to be O.K. His role as president-elect should dictate that someone else handles business matters.”

In an account of the meeting that appeared in The Economic Times, Mr. Trump was quoted as praising the United States’ relationship with India and its prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Internationally, many properties that bear Mr. Trump’s name are the result of marketing deals — like the one in India — in which he is paid by someone for the use of his name but does not actually own the underlying property. He has such marketing agreements in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, the Philippines and Turkey, according to a list published by his company.

So that’s a major conflict of interest with all those countries.

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