Trump More In Debt Than Previously Believed—By Some $1.5 Billion
Over the past few months, Donald Trump filed documents with the FEC that reveal the President-elect owes at least $315 million to ten entities. And while some of this debt is personally guaranteed by him, this is a clear conflict of interest. Part of his job as president will be to regulate entities that he owes money to. This is really bad news because debts like this are often renegotiated, and that means these companies wield leverage over Trump in the regulatory process, Think Progress notes.
Trump Will Oversee Agencies That REgulate Businesses He Owes Money To
A report from the Wall Street Journal indicates there’s something even worse behind all of this. The Federal Election Commission required Trump to only disclose debt from entities that he fully controls. But that disclosure left out “more than $1.5 billion lent to partnerships that are 30 percent owned by him.” That debt is securitized and is owed to 150 financial entities—at the very least.
And within these financial institutions are a number of firms that are scrutinized by the federal agencies that Trump will soon control.
One example? Wells Fargo, which processes over $900 million in loans connected to Trump. It “is currently facing scrutiny from federal regulators surrounding its fraudulent sales practices and other issues,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
And it won’t be long before Trump starts appointing the top regulators who will be responsible for scrutinizing Wells Fargo’s conduct.
Some of this may have serious implications. Case in point:
The Independent reports that Trump also owes money to MetLife Inc., which is in the midst of a court battle with the U.S. government over attempts to provide stricter regulations. Once Trump takes office, he’ll have the power to drop the court case. Convenient, no?
Additionally, documents show that companies owned partly by Trump have borrowed some heavy-duty sums from the state-owned Bank of China, even though he’s launched a number of verbal attacks on China.
And Trevor Potter, a former legal adviser to George H.W. Bush and Sen. John McCain notes that since Trump has so many questionable connections, there could be a real problem:
“The problem with any of this debt is if something goes wrong, and if there is a situation where the president is suddenly personally beholden or vulnerable to threats from the lenders,” he said.
Lawrence Noble, a former lawyer for the FEC notes:
“The appearance of potential conflicts is dangerous and seriously exists in this situation.”
A press conference originally scheduled to address Trump’s seemingly endless conflicts of interest was scheduled for December, but then canceled. Another such press conference has been scheduled for January 11, but apparently it isn’t going to focus solely on his business relationships.
Trump continually maintains that he plans to retain full ownership over his business empire, ThinkProgress notes. He has stated he wants to hand control over to his sons, and at least one government agency says this is glaringly insufficient. The Office of Government Ethics and other ethics authorities say that the only way that Trump can avoid conflicts is to sell his businesses and place the proceeds in a blind trust.
But apparently Trump is actively pressuring foreign governments to patronize his new hotel in Washington, D.C. And, as Think Progress notes, receiving payments from foreign governments is unconstitutional, and Trump receives these kinds of payments from several sources. Legal authorities from both sides of the fence say that if Trump doesn’t fully divest from these sources, he will be violating the Constitution on his first day in office, ThinkProgress reports.
That January 11 press conference is certainly going to be interesting. If Trump doesn’t cancel it, that is.
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