With condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon Kurds in Syria so widespread that #TrumpGenocide trended on Twitter, MSNBC examined whether President Donald Trump’s financial interests could be the root cause of the change in U.S. foreign policy.
“All right, so the question tonight is, why is Donald Trump letting it happen? Today, the Turkish military launched attacks on the Kurdish forces that fight alongside the U.S. against ISIS. It’s happening in the wake of Trump’s promise to pull out American troops from there,” MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin reported. “There are already reports of civilian deaths and Kurdish commanders are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis. Members of Trump’s own party are accusing him of abandoning a key ally.”
“And even Trump’s military advisers disagree with the move. In fact, Trump says he’s fulfilling a campaign promise to get out of the Middle East, but there’s another dimension at play in all of this. Trump has business interests in Turkey. That’s something he clearly admits,” he noted.
Mohyeldin played a clip of Trump admitting his conflict-of-interest during a 2015 interview with Breitbart.
“I have a little conflict-of-interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul. And it’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers,” Trump said. “Two towers. Instead of one, not the usual one. It’s two.”
In fact, Ivanka Trump thanked Turkish leader Recep Erdoğan on Twitter in 2012
Thank you Prime Minister Erdogan for joining us yesterday to celebrate the launch of #TrumpTowers Istanbul!
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) April 20, 2012
“So this is really the first time that we have seen the president make a major national security decision, putting lives at risk, in a place where he himself has acknowledged that he has a conflict-of-interest,” NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla reported.
“There are several ways in which this is true. The most visible one are those Trump Towers where he got $10 million payday for that, while the royalties for that have decreased over time, Ayman, because he’s now president, he receives less money for that, there are many other ways in which he’s invested in Turkey,” she explained.
“We found as part of a lawsuit, that is an active lawsuit right now, that Turkey has the highest number of foreign ventures in which the Trump family is at least a partial owner, at 119. NBC News has also found, exclusively, according to a report that was put together for us by an outside group, that the Turkish officials are the top patrons at Trump properties worldwide,” she continued.
“Now, let me stress that no one is saying that this is why the president made the decision that he made. But what we are saying is nobody understands why he made the decision, and he has these business interests. This is the first time we’re really in this position of having to ask some of these tough questions, because the fact is that there’s a pattern here, specifically with Erdoğan,” she noted.
Przybyla reported “Trump also deferred to Erdoğan on two major issues, going against NATO. The first one was his purchase, Erdoğan’s purchase of a Russian missile system. That, a lot of members of Congress, think should have triggered sanctions. And Trump has essentially held those off. Trump also notably praised Erdoğan after his crackdown, after a failed military coup in 2016, effectively taking over a number of independent news media outlets. Imprisoning a journalist, and Trump, again, kind of soft pedaled that and even praised Erdoğan.”
“Erdoğan has also used the towers for leverage already, Ayman. Back in 2016, when Trump tried to ban certain individuals from certain Muslim nations, Turkey threatened to take his name off the towers. Then when we saw Michael Flynn, his then National Security adviser, pen this op-ed favorable to Erdoğan, and it calmed down and quieted the calls for taking Trump’s name off the towers that he is so proud of,” she added.