A deal between President Donald Trump's Dubai hotel development partner and a Chinese state-owned construction company is raising new questions about the Trump Organization's pledge not to do business with foreign governments while Trump is president.
The agreement, first reported by McClatchy, is between the China State Construction Engineering Corp. and Damac, a Dubai-based construction firm that has partnered with the Trump Organization to build the Trump World Golf Club Dubai, due to be completed in 2018.
According to press releases from both companies, CSCEC won a $32 million contract from Damac earlier this year to build a six-lane road in the residential portion of the development, known as Akoya Oxygen. The Trump World Golf Club Dubai is central to the development and promotional materials prominently feature the Trump logo.
It's not clear exactly when the deal was signed, but the CSCEC contract was part of a group of contracts that Damac announced it had awarded in "January and February" of 2017. Neither company responded to requests for additional information.
Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, but unlike four decades of presidents before him, Trump refused to divest himself of his interest in the Trump Organization, which is involved in real estate deals all over the world. Instead, Trump announced that his adult children would run the company, and his share in the business would be held in a trust under his control during his presidency.
In an attempt to placate critics, who pointed to the hundreds of potential conflicts of interest that could arise between Trump's official duties and his sprawling real estate company, lawyers for the Trump Organization released a trust agreement that would prohibit the company "from entering into any new transaction or contract with a foreign country, agency, or instrumentality thereof."
Such a rule would appear to cover deals with companies like CSCEC, which is owned by the Chinese government. But a representative for the Trump Organization claimed to McClatchy that the CSCEC contract does not violate the prohibition because Trump World Golf Club Dubai is "totally unrelated" to the Akoya Oxygen project. As McClatchy pointed out, this is despite the fact that Damac marketing materials portray the golf club as a central part of the larger development project.
Trump World Golf Club Dubai isn't the only foreign real estate deal to raise questions about how strictly the Trump Organization plans to adhere to its own rules. In February, Trump's son Eric Trump traveled to the Dominican Republic for meetings about a resort development deal with a company the Trump Organization had first partnered with more than a decade ago, for a deal that collapsed in 2007. According to the Trump Organization, any future deals with this developer would qualify as a revival of their failed 2007 project, not a "new" foreign deal.