Because who doesn’t want to develop property next to a “shithole” country.
“We’re going to have a new development with the Trump Organization of apartments and commercial areas,” a saleswoman told a man she thought was a potential buyer who was actually a Global Witness investigator. “That is still in the works … With the Trump Organization, everything right now is on good terms.”
There have been signs the Dominican Republic has sought to influence the Trump Administration in a range of areas. Just weeks after the inauguration and Eric Trump’s visit to the Dominican Republic, the Dominican government hired a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm for the first time since 2007.
According to Justice Department filings reviewed by ABC News, the office of the Dominican president signed a $1.2 million contract with lobbyist Brian Ballard, who had previously represented Trump, and has been described in Politico as “closer to the president than perhaps any other lobbyist in town.” The lobbyist pledged to “advise, counsel, and assist,” the Dominican president “in communications with U.S. government officials.”
While it is not illegal for Trump to run a private business while in office, Cabinet members and senior administration officials are required by law to fully divest from any private financial interests that may intersect with their professional duties. The vice president and president of the United States are exempt from these rules.
Our new investigation underscores the need for a comprehensive conflict of interest law that holds both the president and vice president accountable to the American people. As his own lawyer stated ahead of his inauguration: “any new deal could — and I emphasize could — be perceived as causing a conflict or as exploiting the office of the presidency.”
“The Trump Organization’s business in the Dominican Republic has also spurred questions about the relationship between the U.S. president and Dominican officials,” the report reads. “In particular, questions have arisen over whether Dominican officials changed rules so that buildings could be constructed higher to benefit a Trump company project, which could be a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.”
Last year, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, fellow White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, spent a weekend visiting a luxury hotel in the Dominican Republic. It is unclear whether their visit was related to the real estate project, but it is estimated to have cost U.S. taxpayers almost $60,000 in security costs.