Breitbart News editor and Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, talked about President-elect Donald Trump’s business interests with SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily.
“My concern is frankly less about his direct ownership of the company,” said Schweizer. “Some people have said he should sell his stake in the company. That’s very hard to do with a real estate empire. The sales are hundreds of millions of dollars in individual assets, and there are a bunch of those assets, so that’s a very difficult thing to do.”
“For me, the bigger concern, frankly, is the children because if you look historically, whether that is George W. Bush, whether that’s Jimmy Carter, foreign entities who are going to try to curry favor or get leverage over an American president often do it by trying to strike a sweetheart deal with a family member, often with one of the kids,” he said.
“That’s my concern: you’re going to have Bahrain, or Saudi Arabia, or Russia, or Kazakhstan, or some foreign power that wants something from Donald Trump is going to offer and give a sweetheart deal to one of the kids. The kids will take it, and now, suddenly, there is some sense of either obligation or leverage or some form of embarrassment that can be used against the president,” Schweizer warned.
He said there must be “bright lines” and “transparency” around the First Family’s business dealings.
“I know that it’s a private company. The Trump organization is not publicly traded, but I think they will be protecting themselves in a powerful way if they have greater transparency so that people see precisely the kinds of transactions they’re engaged in,” he recommended.
“Unlike other people that have been President of the United States, who were either not successful businessmen or marginally successful businessmen, this is an individual that’s had financial success, has a large empire. It was gained legitimately in the free market,” Schweizer noted. “The question becomes, once he becomes president, once that transition happens, are there favors and special deals granted by foreign governments? Are the kids being given sweetheart deals by foreign powers?”
“To me, that critical date becomes once he becomes president – and most importantly, as you said, once it is clarified precisely what they’re going to do. If what we hear on the 15th is essentially, you know, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m not going to be involved in the business, but everything else is going to function the same,’ then I think you’ve got a problem,” Schweizer said.
“I think you’ve got a problem not just for the country, but you’ve got a problem for the Trump family – because again, the sunshine is going to help them, and I don’t think they know precisely what they’re in for,” he warned. “Donald Trump’s never been president. Very few people have been. I don’t think they precisely know what they are in for, in terms of what foreign entities, corporations, or governments are going to try to do – because he is going to be the most powerful man in the world, who can do wonderful things to help certain countries, or hurt certain countries. So they’re going to pull everything out of their playbook to try to curry favor.”
“I just hope that they take this matter seriously, they don’t try to approach it on sort of a case-by-case basis, but they have a very robust, transformative, and transparent approach – because if they don’t, the people that are going to be most damaged by this, ultimately, are the Trumps and their reputation. For me, it’s only a question of time when these types of things start to take place and get thrown at the kids and the family,” he predicted.
Kassam proposed another conflict of interest scenario, in which government business takes place at Trump properties, for example, visiting diplomats staying at a Trump hotel or government officials having important dinners at Trump restaurants.
“Those sorts of scenarios worry me less than the big projects,” Schweizer responded. “I understand precisely that, you know, you might have a Japanese delegation come and spend a lot of money at the Trump hotel. My bigger concern is about the major capital projects. The Trump organization has expanded internationally. I’m less concerned if a bunch of diplomats from a foreign country come and drop money at the bar at the Trump hotel than if a foreign government – let’s say Bahrain – says, ‘Oh, why don’t you build a Trump Tower here in this prime real estate location, and we’re going to give it to you for ten cents on the dollar?’ Those are the kinds of deals where, you know, you’ve got a chance to make $50 million, $100 million or more off of that kind of deal.”
“To me, the solution becomes transparency. By that, I mean major projects, whether it is building a project, whether it is financing of a project. And of course the Trumps are not required to do this, legally, but what I’m saying is they need to be transparent about that, so people can look at some project in Bahrain, or some financing deal involving Deutsche Bank, and know that they’re paying market rates for that money, or what they paid for that land, or for that capital investment corresponds basically with what the market price is,” he advised.
“Again, this is not something they legally have to do, but they are protecting themselves, and they are going the extra mile, which I think will gain goodwill with the American people. Let’s remember, Donald Trump was elected by the American people for a variety of reasons. One of those was draining the swamp. One of those was the fact that the Clintons had made hundreds of millions of dollars through public service,” Schweizer pointed out.
“The American people, I think, are hoping and expecting that Donald Trump is going to work to drain the swamp, and the best way to do that to start is by starting at the top and saying, ‘We’re going to take this extra step. We don’t have to do this, but we’re going to take this extra step and say on a quarterly basis, have a level of transparency on major projects that lets people know precisely what kind of deals we are striking around the world,’” he said.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.