President-elect Donald Trump and his children attended a meeting with a group of Indian investors this week — which may mean Trump has already violated rules separating his personal business and his role as ascendant chief executive.
TheHill.com said on Saturday night that Trump’s meeting with Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta violates the agreement he undertook after winning the election on Nov. 8 which stated that he would hand all of his personal business operation over to his three eldest children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.
The investors posted a photo on Twitter of themselves alongside Trump giving the “thumbs up” gesture after their meeting and a message that said, “Atul & Sagar Chordia, Kalpesh Mehta meets U S President Mr Donald Trump at Trump Towers New York office just now.”
Atul & Sagar Chordia, Kalpesh Mehta meets U S President Mr Donald Trump at Trump Towers New York office just now pic.twitter.com/v7D3Uqx03d
— DEVENDRA JAIN (@shubham9601) November 15, 2016
Breanna Butler, a spokeswoman for Trump’s transition team, denied any wrongdoing by the former reality TV star, insisting, “It was not a formal meeting of any kind.”
Neither Butler nor former campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks would respond to questions about whether expanding Trump’s business interests or projects in India were discussed at the confab. Butler said the businessmen had simply stopped by to congratulate Trump on winning the election.
However, Kalpesh Mehta told India’s Economic Times that during the meeting, Donald Trump Jr. expressed interest in expanding the family’s penetration of the Indian market.
In order to avoid any conflicts of interest with the business of state, presidents are required to place their business interests in a blind trust for the duration of their term in office.
Earlier this week, Ivanka Trump was photographed sitting in on a meeting between her father and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump Tower, which raised eyebrows in the diplomatic community and beyond. State Department officials noted that no effort has been made to vet Ivanka Trump or obtain her a security clearance.
Trump has also blundered by making unscheduled calls to foreign officials without being properly briefed and on unsecured phone lines.
Noah Bookbinder of the government accountability agency CREW said, “Donald Trump’s children and son-in-law have been deeply involved in the transition and selecting who will be part of his administration. At the same time they are deeply involved in the business. There does not seem to be any sign of a meaningful separation of Trump government operations and his business operations.”