Former Indian Official: Donald Trump Jr. Pushed 'Blatantly Illegal' Project
[A COVER OF “BEAT IT” BY MICHAEL JACKSON PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND]
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: October 2016, just a few weeks before the election, Donald Trump held an event in Edison, New Jersey, organized by the Republican-Hindu Coalition. It was one of the only campaign events he did that celebrated an immigrant community. And it was pretty weird.
[THE MUSIC PLAYS UP FOR A MOMENT]
BERNSTEIN: There’s a Michael Jackson impersonator.
[THE TRACK CONTINUES, BUT WITH LYRICS IN HINDI]
BERNSTEIN: Then there's a dance — two couples waltzing. The men are wearing shiny suits, the women, short black dresses. Behind them, projected on a screen, is a giant pulsing pink heart. A little bit into the dance, some actress playing terrorists intrude. [SHOOTING SOUNDS, AND SCREAMING] They’re wearing tan hooded robes, carrying green laser guns. Shouting.
[A MANIACAL LAUGH ECHOES IN THE ROOM]
BERNSTEIN: And then enter the United States Rangers. [SIRENS AND THE SOUND OF A DEEP, GI JOE-SOUNDING VOICE PLAY] They rescue the hostages, then they all sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” [SOUNDS OF THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER SEGUEING INTO “BORN IN THE USA”] which segues into “Born in the USA.” The Rangers and the hostages dance triumphantly.
A little bit later in the evening, a man named Shalabh Kumar takes the stage. He's an Indian-American based in Chicago, an electronics billionaire. His family donated over a million dollars to Donald Trump. He's also a lobbyist, and one of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most important backers in the U.S.
SHALABH KUMAR: [APPLAUSE, THEN] Welcome, my dear friend, and a great leader for our country and the world: Mr. Donald J. Trump! [“PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN” PLAYS]
BERNSTEIN: And Trump says something he doesn't say that often about immigrants and foreign countries.
DONALD TRUMP: I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India. Big, big fan. [DOG-WHISTLING] Big, big fan. And if I'm elected president, the Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House. [CHEERING] I'm involved in two massive developments in India — you probably know. Very successful.
BERNSTEIN: In this event in New Jersey, it all comes together: entertainment, real estate politics, international relations, nativism — and how much Trump admires Modi.
TRUMP: I look forward to working with Prime Minister Modi, who has been very energetic and reforming India’s bureaucracy. [CHEERING] Great man.
[THEME STRING MUSIC PLAYS UP]
BERNSTEIN: In India, Modi’s known as a pro business leader. Since he came to power in 2014, his party's been winning a lot of state-level elections. It's a Hindu nationalist party whose top leaders openly scapegoat Muslims, but Trump's affinity for Modi is about more than ideological compatibility. Even before Trump was elected, a top official in Modi's political party was a partner with the Trump family business.
And today, Trump, his family, and officials from Modi's party continue to work together. It's impossible to tell where government ends and the Trump family business begins — in both the United States and India.
[TRUMP, INC. THEME MUSIC PLAYS]
BERNSTEIN: Hello and welcome to Trump, Inc., a podcast from WNYC and ProPublica that digs deep into the secrets of the Trump family business. I'm Andrea Bernstein.
ANJALI KAMAT: And I'm Anjali Kamat, a reporter with the Investigative Fund.
KAMAT: There are more Trump projects in India than in any country outside of the U.S. — and they're active right now. The Trumps say these are licensing deals.
BERNSTEIN: Usually what that means is they license their name, they get an upfront fee, and they get a cut of sales.
KAMAT: The president's son, Donald Trump Jr., has been actively involved in all of these projects, including marketing condos there. Here’s a clip from February.
DONALD TRUMP JR.: You know, India is a marketplace that we've been looking at for a long time. I've been very bullish on India. I’ve been talking about it for a decade. So it's incredible to be able to see some of this come to fruition.
BERNSTEIN: Anjali has spent a year looking into Trump's business in India, including months on the ground. You can read more of her reporting in the current issue of the New Republic.
We are going to spend this week and next on the results of her investigation. This week, working with local journalists, Anjali has uncovered evidence of fraud involving a proposed Trump project. Not just an arms-length deal — Don Jr. was closely involved. There were, quote, “irregularities.” One top Indian official told Angela that Don Jr. tried to get him to approve a project the official called “blatantly illegal.”
I'll be back in a bit with ProPublica's Jesse Eisinger, but, for now, I'm turning things over to Anjali.
[INTENSE PERCUSSIVE MUSIC PLAYS]
KAMAT: In February of this year, Don Jr. went on a tour to sell apartments and Trump Tower projects in India.
NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump, Jr., landing in Delhi, to promote the U.S. First Family's business interests in India. Apart from his business meetings on Friday, Donald Trump Jr. is delivering a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which shows a personal rapport with him.
KAMAT: The plan was for Don Jr., who doesn't hold a government position, to make a speech on foreign policy.
NEWSCASTER: It will be interesting to see whether Trump's ventures in India will translate into win-win foreign policy situations for Indians. Bureau Report, Radiya Suhbhativi [SPELLING UNCLEAR].
KAMAT: When Trump became president, he insisted there would be a wall between the White House and his family business, now run by his sons. There was a bit of an outcry after word got out about the Indo-Pacific relations speech. The agenda was updated: Don Jr. would hold a “fireside chat” instead — him and an armchair across from an interviewer, behind them, a giant screen with a video of a fire.
DON JR.: I’m here as a businessman. I'm here not representing anyone.
DON JR.: I’m just — I’m here. And I've been coming to India for over a decade. So I understand the market, understand the mindset. [FADES UNDER]
KAMAT: During the fireside chat, Don Jr. Was asked a question about that “mindset.” The announcer warned him the question would be tricky — uncomfortable even — for this audience.
ANNOUNCER: Are Indian businessmen … [FADES UNDER]
KAMAT: A question about the constant complaint of corruption in India.
ANNOUNCER: Are some sections of Indian industry willing to bend rules, uh, when it suits them?
DON JR.: Uh, well, listen. I think there's an entrepreneurial spirit here. That is, you know — [LAUGHTER, THEN APPLAUSE] — again, it needs no further explanation.
KAMAT: During his media tour in India, he kept repeating this reference to the “entrepreneurial spirit.”
DON JR.: You know, I just see sort of the entrepreneurial spirit of the people. It's just — for me, as an international market, I found it to be the easiest place to try to do business.
KAMAT: The World Bank Group says it's actually one of the hardest places to do business — particularly in real estate. Milan Vaishnav is director of the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
MILAN VAISHNAV: India is the — one of the [LAUGHS LIGHTLY] worst performers, still, on the ease of getting a construction permit. Out of 190 countries it ranks 181.
KAMAT: India’s real estate market is heavily regulated. And at each step there's an opportunity to move along the project with a bribe. Vaishnav says politicians and officials give out licenses and permits in exchange for campaign contributions. And there's been no progress on the corruption front.
VAISHNAV: You know, part of the reason for that is there is this kind of well-lubricated machine.
[LOW, TECHNO-ESQUE MUSIC PLAYS]
KAMAT: Corruption is so entrenched in Mumbai’s tight real estate market that some bureaucrats have come up with an informal bribery rate card. They set the prices for bribes at each stage of approval, with premiums for prime locations. According to The Times of India, you could get permits in the city center for about $20 a square foot, which means bribes for tall luxury towers there could easily run into the millions of dollars.
Transparency International, a global anti-corruption group, ranks countries based on perceptions of corruption, with zero being the most corrupt. In 2010, India was ranked 3.3 out of 10, alongside Albania and Swaziland.
That year, India was rocked by corruption scandals. Major investors were spooked, and foreign investment in real estate dropped by a third. That's when the Trump Organization made its first India deal.
KAMAT: Even today, Don Jr. is proud of his long association with India. Here he is in a television interview in New Delhi last month.
DON JR.: I was a believer for a long time.
KAMAT: The Trump's first company related to India was registered in Delaware in October 2010.
DON JR.: … decades of coming here and learning the hard way. You know, not just coming in and saying, “Hey, I'm here because I love India and everyone else loves it. Therefore we must be —“ you know, I was a believer when others weren't.
KAMAT: [OVER THE SOUNDS OF CONSTRUCTION AND STREET TRAFFIC] Today, there are five active Trump projects in India, worth an estimated $1.5 billion. Four of these are residential towers. One is a commercial tower. Only one is complete, in Pune. There's a proposed tower in Kolkata and other two in Gurgaon, a suburb of the capital New Delhi, and a major one in Mumbai that's under construction.
KAMAT: We’re standing outside the Trump Tower site in Mumbai. The roads are choked with traffic. It's hidden in the midst of a cluster of other construction sites and high rises everywhere. It's hard to imagine that this is going to be what Trump called the jewel in his crown.
KAMAT: But that's the plan, and it's been a long time coming. The Trump's first attempt to build a tower here in Mumbai was a failure. Mumbai is a bit like Manhattan: it's a narrow strip of land with almost no space left to build. Real estate is extremely valuable and heavily regulated.
[ROCK-ESQUE MUSIC PLAYS]
KAMAT: I traveled to Mumbai a year ago to find out what happened on the Trump's failed first project. I visited development sites, municipal offices, tracked down luxury developers and politicians. That first project was supposed to be a 65-story super luxury tower with just 45 apartments. Each floor had no more than a single apartment. In January 2011, Donald Trump said to GQ that it would be one of the most luxurious buildings in the world.
Nine months after that comment, in September of that year, a state lawmaker named Prakash bin Sali sent a letter to city and state authorities. It said he had uncovered gross violations of planning regulations on this project.
KAMAT: The letter had been sitting in a stack of documents and the Mumbai city planning office — that’s located in a dusty, Victorian-era municipal building in the heart of the city.
Bin Sali’s out of office now. He agreed to meet near that original Trump Tower site. It's the first time he spoke about his findings.
KAMAT: So how did you find out about the violations on this project? What drew you to it?
PRAKASH BIN SALI: You see, some of my friend wanted to buy a flat, so I called them. I said, “You need to buy a flat.”
KAMAT: He asked how big it was. He was told 4,000 square feet.
BIN SALI: 4,000 square feet.
KAMAT: He knew the developers would never get permissions to build a high rise with apartments that big. So he pulled all the documents and he noticed something unusual. Almost every floor had plans for a roughly 1,500 square foot apartment. That's the permitted size. Plus, there was an additional 2,000 square feet of, quote, “fire decks” — an area that’s supposed to be kept clear in case of a fire.
He suspected the plan was to convert those fire decks into rooms. Approving these massive fire decks didn't make sense.
BIN SALI: And it was quite surprising that how such approval was given, since the plot was abating two major routes, which can’t accommodate any type of firefighting equipment.
KAMAT: The rule was you didn't have to pay a fee to the government for a fire deck, but you did for an apartment. Bin Sali thought this was a scam to build far bigger apartments than the regulations allowed and avoid paying fees to the city. He found that, despite the violations, city officials had signed off on the plans. He did the math.
BIN SALI: … find the crew's extra profit will be generated to this, just by this violation. So, are we going to allow this to happen?
KAMAT: What bin Sali said is that, by violating the regulations, the completed building could generate more than $100 million in additional profit for apartments that would be much larger than the permitted size.
KAMAT: How was a plan like this, that had such blatant violations — how was it able to pass in the first place?
BIN SALI: Well, this has to be some hand in glove with the departmental officers.
KAMAT: “Hand in glove.” He told me he was absolutely certain that bribes were involved. I asked him for evidence that the Trump's business partners might've paid bribes. He couldn't provide that.
[LOW, DRONING MUSIC PLAYS]
KAMAT: I followed up with the officials who had signed off on the documents. Two of them wouldn't talk. The third had died. We do know that third official was posthumously indicted by the state anti-corruption bureau on a different case, a few years later. We asked the Trump Organization and the developers for the project about what bin Sali told us. There was no response.
The Trumps have never been charged with violating any laws in India.
bin Sali's letter led to an internal investigation that ultimately shut down the Trump's first tower in India. Investigators found five, quote, “irregularities,” including the fire decks. By early 2012, the permits were revoked.
A few months later, Don Jr. made a trip to Mumbai to intervene. He met with the highest elected official in the state, the equivalent of a U.S. governor, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. This was during a brief reform period in the state, and Chavan had a clean reputation. Chavan’s in the opposition now. He agreed to meet with me, along with a couple of Indian journalists who were helping me. We spoke over dinner at a restaurant in Mumbai, and that's all the noise in the background you're hearing.
[THE NOISE OF A RESTAURANT PLAYS]
KAMAT: Chavan said that he met with an Indian businessman who'd brought along a prominent American, Donald Trump Jr. Chavan said he'd been told Trump Jr. was coming to talk about investing in the state. But when they sat down, they wanted something else. They wanted Chavan to overrule the decision to halt the project.
PRITHVIRAJ CHAVAN: “It could not be cleared?” So I said, “No, it could not be cleared.”
KAMAT: He said, “No, it cannot be cleared.”
KAMAT: Why couldn’t it be cleared?
CHAVAN: I did not really look.
KAMAT: I asked him, “Why wasn't it within the existing rules?”
CHAVAN: It was a special concession requirement. It could not be [INDISTINCT]
KAMAT: He said he would get into trouble sanctioning something that was blatantly illegal.
CHAVAN: And I would get in trouble into sanctioning something that was blatantly illegal.
KAMAT: He said it couldn't be done.
CHAVAN: Out of the question.
KAMAT: Chavan’s point here? Don Jr. and his Indian business partner were trying to get him — a top government official — to green-light something that was illegal. There's a recording of Don Jr. from the same trip where he met with Chavan. He downplayed the project's failure.
DON JR.: They were faced with regulatory issues, like — like everyone else. So, you know, we — we are underway and when that gets worked out, we'll be going forward. You know, we have a great partnership with them. We'll look forward to developing that as well as, you know, others in the very near future.
[DRIVING PIANO MUSIC PLAYS]
KAMAT: But the project was dead. The Trumps and their first partner just couldn't make it work. As Don Jr. explains it today, his early dealings in India were a learning experience.
DON JR.: Well, I've just turned 40 and it took sort of the school of hard knocks to really learn, uh, how to get into the right sector — who to — how to meet the right developers to partner with the right people.
KAMAT: And so the Trumps began to search for the right people. Instead of lobbying the politicians, they would enlist the politicians as their business partners. We'll be right back.
[MUSIC OUT, MIDROLL]
ANNOUNCER: [LIGHT MUSIC] Ladies and gentlemen, here we are with the Lodha Group and Trump. [FADES UNDER]
KAMAT: It’s August 2014. There's a new prime minister in India: Narendra Modi, the business-friendly Hindu nationalist leader. And the Trumps are back in Mumbai with a new partner, the Lodha Group. Mangal Prabhat Loda is a billionaire builder. For over 20 years, he’s been a powerful state lawmaker in Modi's political party. As he was ascending in politics, his real estate fortunes rose.
A builder, a billionaire, and part of the same sectarian Hindu nationalist party — and now, he and Trump are on the same team.
ANNOUNCER: [OVER THE SAME LIGHT MUSIC] Coming together to build a magnificent golden edifice into the Mumbai skyline. To kickstart … [FADES DOWN]
KAMAT: Donald Jr. and Sr. fly in and stay at the St. Regis Hotel in Mumbai. An event planner I spoke to said Donald Trump didn't eat or drink anything there. His team brought all of his food, even his silverware.
During their visit, the Trumps hold a press conference to launch the sales of the gold-hued, 800-foot tower.
DONALD TRUMP: [OVER THE SAME LIGHT MUSIC] It’s a great country. I just have so much respect to the country. And as far as entrepreneurs, nobody has a monopoly on entrepreneurs like India. And I know plenty of ‘em. Thank you.
KAMAT: These sales events are typically part of Trump's contract. He gets an upfront fee, shows up to promote the development, gets a cut of the sales. On this media tour, he sings the praises of his new partner.
DONALD TRUMP: The Lodha brand is known all over. These are great developers — talented developers. So when we had the opportunity to come to India and in this case, Mumbai specifically —
DONALD TRUMP: — we chose it. And a lot of that had to do with Lodha.
KAMAT: Technically, Lodha’s sons are now the public face of his real estate company, like Trump’s. And also like Trump, he hasn't fully distanced himself from the business.
By the end of 2014, there are three Trump projects underway in India. Here's Don Jr. from an interview in India:
DON JR.: Yeah. So we're in the relationship business. One deal turns into three or four because, frankly, it's easiest that way.
KAMAT: In 2015, it grows to five projects, according to paperwork filed by Donald Trump. [ROCK MUSIC PLAYS OVER CHEERING] In June of that year, Trump announces his campaign.
DONALD TRUMP: So, I've watched the politicians. I've dealt with them all my life. If you can't make a good deal with a politician, then there's something wrong with you. You're certainly not very good.
KAMAT: His business dealings continue. His campaign takes off. It's May of 2016.
NEWS ANNOUNCER: The big news today: [A CLICKING AND A WHOOSHING NOISE] Donald Trump has earned enough delegates to win the Republican nomination on the first bout in Cleveland … [FADES UNDER]
[PERCUSSIVE MUSIC PLAYS]
KAMAT: The Lodha Group seizes the moment. It puts up billboards in Mumbai declaring “Trump is back,” and advertising an opportunity to buy apartments in the upcoming Trump Tower. Then, Lodha puts up a familiar slogan on his political website: “Making Mumbai Great Again.”
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Prime Minister Modi, thank you very much. Thank you. [SCATTERED APPLAUSE] Thank you.
KAMAT: A year later, Trump is president, and in June, 2017, he's no longer just the business partner of a lawmaker in the prime minister's political party. Now, Trump is hosting Narendra Modi himself at the White House. It's a huge turnaround for the businessmen whose family company once had to beg for permits.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: During my campaign, I pledged that, if elected, India would have a true friend in the White House — and that is now exactly what you have: a true friend.
KAMAT: The two world leaders are standing at twin podiums in front of two sets of enormous American and Indian flags.
PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI: [SPEAKS HINDI]
KAMAT: Modi goes on to praise Trump for his vast and successful experience in the business world. After the speech, Modi puts his arms around Trump. Images of the two men hugging or beamed around the world. One other thing happens during Modi’s visit.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m excited to report that the Prime Minister has invited my daughter, Ivanka, to lead the U.S. delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall … [FADES UNDER]
KAMAT: And in late November of last year, she went to Hyderabad.
IVANKA TRUMP: Hello everyone. Thank you for all being here and for the incredibly warm welcome. And thank you, Prime Minister Modi, for joining us here today. And that … [FADES UNDER]
KAMAT: She was there as a senior White House advisor who still draws a $1.5 million annual check from the Trump Organization. Modi threw a big party for his guest of honor. There was a five-course meal. The streets were cleaned up, and the homeless were removed.
REPORTER: But not only have all the beggars been moved out for the visit — neglected roads were quickly repaired.
KAMAT: Coverage of her official visit was nonstop, much of it, positive.
NEWS HOST: [OVER PLEASANT MUSIC] Dressed in a modest-length green dress with Indian motives, she charmed the audience with an easy candor. [APPLAUSE IN THE BACKGROUND]
KAMAT: A retired planning official told me that, after Ivanka's visit, things moved quickly for the Trumps — on the business side. The official in Gurgaon — a suburb of the capital, New Delhi — told me shortly after Ivanka left India, the final permissions in a project there were rushed through.
He said it took, quote, “no time.” That project launched in January with an unusual offer to buyers:
MANISHA NATARAJAN: [OVER EXCITING MUSIC] Led by Donald Jr. Trump, son of the U.S. President. Add to this, the excitement of the unmatchable offer: first hundred buyers of Trump Tower get to fly to New York to be hosted by Trump Jr. himself.
KAMAT: And, a month after that, Don Jr. himself was in India, hosting events for buyers and investors in four Indian cities. His partners took out full front-page ads in major newspapers in New Delhi saying, “Trump has arrived. Have you?” And, “Trump is here. Are you invited?” Anyone who could pay a deposit of around $40,000 for a Trump-branded apartment would get to meet the son of a sitting American president.
ANNOUNCER: [LAUGHING] You’re offering a dinner date with yourself to all your new buyers?
DON JR.: Well, but if I didn't, I'd be the first person in the history of real estate to not go meet with their buyers, right? So, but that's the problem — because my father [TALKING AS IF OUT THE SIDE OF HIS MOUTH] happens to be in politics, there’s always a catch. It must be because of this. It's like, wait a minute. I'm functioning as a real estate developer. That's what we do.
KAMAT: That is what he did. He held dinners in every city. Buyers were there. So were business leaders and politicians. The host of the Mumbai event offered guests an opportunity to interact with Mr. Donald Trump Jr.
[THE SOUND OF PEOPLE MILLING ABOUT]
[DRIVING, INTRIGUE MUSIC]
KAMAT: And the people buying condos who may have been putting money down just to be in a room with the son of the U.S. president? We don't know who they are.
[MORE SOUNDS OF PEOPLE MILLING ABOUT]
KAMAT: Their names are only made public if they register a mortgage or a sale. That often doesn't happen until the projects are completed — and that could be years from now.
We asked the Trump Organization and the White House for comment. There was no response. We'll be right back.
BERNSTEIN: It’s Andrea Bernstein, back with Anjali Kamat and Jesse Eisinger from ProPublica. The three of us are going to take a moment here to talk about Anjali’s reporting. I'm just processing all of these connections that we have been hearing about. So we have Donald Trump, the president; Ivanka Trump, the White House advisor; Don Jr., the family business pitch-man — on the one side. And then on the other side, we have Narendra Modi, who is controlling this vast government, and whose political party is really doing well. They keep winning more and more elections. And one of the senior officials in his party — Mangal Prabhat Lodha — is Trump's business partner. So it's such an extraordinary confluence of politics and power and business and money.
KAMAT: And what's interesting is that this is fairly familiar territory to businessmen and politicians in India, because corruption is so entrenched in real estate in India. And, you know, people in India talk about this builder-politician nexus, where developers are one of the major financiers of political parties. So a figure like Trump, who began as a developer and then turned into a politician, isn’t so unusual in India.
JESSE EISINGER: We haven't had, in living memory, a president who's got ongoing business interests. Uh, and the problem now is that we can't know whether what he's doing is for his business interests or for American political reasons.
And we don't understand, um, the distinction between what the American people need and want, uh, and what the world needs and wants, and what is good for the Trump Organization.
KAMAT: I mean, the fact that these lines have gotten so blurry is precisely the point. So when President Trump tweets, on January 1st, that Pakistan has given us nothing but lies and deceit, and then goes on to cut some of the aid that Pakistan has been getting from the United States. There could be several reasons for that that have nothing to do with India — but within India, among members of the Prime Minister's political party, it's seen as a coup [PAUSE] and it's seen as a victory for Indian diplomacy under the current Prime Minister.
BERNSTEIN: So, as we know, Donald Trump has not divested — and not even disconnected from his business. He’s — he's put his assets in a trust, but it's not a blind trust, and he can withdraw on this trust at any time.
So, we have that on the one hand, and then we have, in India, people openly being dangled a visit with the President’s son. There's no bones about it. It’s, “Come meet with the President's son who is also named Donald Trump.” [LAUGHS LIGHTLY]
What's happening in India doesn't feel that different from, for example, a fundraiser, like the fundraiser that Donald Jr. and Eric Trump threw at Mar-a-Lago, except that the difference between that and what's going on in India is that, in Mar-a-Lago, the donors are disclosed, and in India, we don't know who are buying these condos.
EISINGER: Right. The idea that the President's son is marketed as the President's son for the purpose of selling condos that directly line, the President's pocket is, um, it is so unbelievably shocking. And yet we've become inured to it because this is kind of our new daily reality.
BERNSTEIN: So when Trump became president, he said, “There's a wall — there’s a wall between my business and the White House. And there will be no new foreign deals.” And I think what we are really hearing clearly is that the idea of “no new foreign deals” is sort of a promise without content, because these deals may have been underway before January 20th, 2017, but there are new transactions every minute. There are new people buying, and there are permits being sought, and there are clearances being granted. And it’s a tangle!
KAMAT: Two of these projects are still under construction. One is, you know, maybe about 60 stories done. Another one that I visited in Kolkata, there's just like a foundation that's been laid. Two others, the construction hasn't even started. So the number of permits and clearances that are still required — and the negotiations that are required to get these permits and clearances in an incredibly corrupt environment — there’s ample opportunity for conflicts of interest here.
Just one thing I want to say is that what comes out from, you know, all of the tape that we heard is just how involved Don Jr. is. I mean, these are supposed to be brand-licensing deals, which is what we're told by the Trump Organization and the developers and all the coverage about it. But, if it's just about selling the Trump name, it's astounding how involved Don Jr. is in these deals.
BERNSTEIN: In the aggregate, what this shows to me is the importance of norms in maintaining a set of expectations, and in maintaining a certain level of business practices.
[CREDITS MUSIC STARTS TO PLAY]
BERNSTEIN: I mean, as we've been talking about now, we have a White House where those norms are meaningless. So we're in this wild West situation where anything goes. Anjali, Jesse, thank you.
ANJALI KAMAT & JESSE EISINGER: Thank you.
BERNSTEIN: Coming up on Trump, Inc., Trump's partners in India, investigations into money-laundering, and possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: [ON THE PHONE] Every other country goes into these places and they do what they have to do. It's a horrible law and it should be changed.
BERNSTEIN: As always, we're asking for your help. Do you know anything about the Trump's businesses in India, or their business partners, or how these licensing deals are structured? Have you bought a condo there? You can send documents and tips, confidentially. Find out how TrumpIncPodcast.org. And remember, you can read more from Investigative Fund reporter Anjali Kamat in the current issue of the New Republic.We'll have a link on our webpage.
Trump, Inc. is produced by Meg Cramer. The associate producer is Alice Wilder. The engineers are Wayne Schulmeister and Bill Moss. This story was edited by Esther Kaplan of the Investigative Fund. Charlie Herman and Eric Umansky. Terry Parris Jr. is ProPublica's Editor for Engagement.
Jim Schachter is the Vice President for News at WNYC, and Steve Engelberg is the Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica. The original music is by Hannis Brown.
Anjali’s story, “Political Corruption and the Art of the Deal,” is the cover story of the April issue of the New Republic. It was edited by Theodore Ross.
Additional support for WNYC was provided in part by the Park Foundation. This episode was produced in partnership with the Investigative Fund’s Wayne Barrett project.
WAYNE BARRETT: Atlantic City is a very small town. It has a very small police department and Donald owned 40% of the — of the hotel rooms at that time. So almost every cop in Atlantic City moonlit for Donald. And so one of them busted me. They must have had pictures of me cause they knew what I looked like. And they slapped the handcuffs on me and charged me with “defiant trespass.” I am a convicted defiant trespasser.
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