Trump's international visitors highlight conflict of interest concerns

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump has been adamant that his business will mean nothing to him as president, telling 60 Minutes last week “I don’t care about hotel occupancy. It’s peanuts compared to what we’re doing.”

But a Facebook photo from last Tuesday, that has since been deleted, showed the smiling president-elect at Trump Tower joined by three of his Indian business partners, developers of the Trump Towers luxury apartment complex in Pune, India.

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Donald Trump with his Indian business partners

Devendra Jain/Facebook

The Trump Organization said it was just “an exchange of hellos,” but Indian media clearly thought it was more, saying “Donald Trump meets Indian partners.”

One story quoted a business partner saying he discussed Indian economic policy with Trump’s children.

“I think the focus was very much on the business leaders as well. Who are they, what kind of access will they get in the future, what is this going to do to their business?” said Tanvi Madan, an expert on India foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

“One thing it definitely did was increase the visibility of both the Trump projects but also these Indian business partners within the Indian media,” Madan said.

Trump’s personal business interests could also create unique conflicts of interests when it comes to national security.

For example, in Turkey, where the U.S. has been critical of the government for its crackdown on dissent and its approach to the Syrian civil war, Trump has licensed his name to the Trump Tower residential building in Istanbul. 

On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said “What I can assure you and all of your viewers is that all of the laws pertaining to his business dealings and his service as President of the United States will be strictly adhered to and he’s set that tone from the very beginning.”

Note that while Pence said they will follow the laws, there are no conflict of interest laws that apply to the president or vice president.