On Monday, PBS NewsHour and the Associated Press reported that ethics experts are broadly concerned that President Donald Trump’s $400 million personal debt — disclosed in the tax returns obtained by The New York Times — pose a threat to national security.
“Trump, according to his latest financial disclosure statement, reported that he had 14 loans on 12 properties,” said the report. “One lender, Germany-based Deutsche Bank, continued to do business with Trump even after he defaulted in 2008 on a loan for his Chicago hotel and condo development. Trump filed suit against the bank and others whom he blamed for his inability to repay. But Deutsche Bank’s private banking division continued to lend to Trump, including $125 million to finance the purchase and renovation of his Doral golf resort in 2012, according to previous disclosures.”
The big problem, experts said, is that such loans could be giving Trump an incentive to choose the interests of his creditors over the national interest.
“Americans should be concerned about the president’s debt because it’s a national security risk for our country,” said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington deputy director Donald Sherman. “This is information that the president has aggressively and repeatedly tried to keep away from the public.” Former Bush White House Counsel Richard Painter agreed, adding, “Why would banks assume the risk on these loans? Or did someone else quietly assume risk of that loan for the bank to make it happen?”
Trump has insisted that this level of debt is not unusual among people in his field, insisting that he is “extremely under leveraged.” However, his decision to maintain his holdings in his business empire at all was controversial from the start, raising fears of conflicts of interest.