When former President Donald J. Trump returned briefly last week to his office at Trump Tower in New York, he was joined by his son Eric Trump and the top executive of a Saudi Arabian real estate company to sign a deal that creates new conflict-of-interest questions for his just-launched presidential campaign.
The deal is with a Saudi real estate company, which intends to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and a golf course as part of a $4 billion real estate project in Oman. The agreement continues a practice that had been popular for the Trump family business until Mr. Trump was elected president — selling branding rights to an overseas project in exchange for a generous licensing fee.
But what makes this project unusual — and is sure to intensify the questions over this newest transaction — is that by teaming up with the Saudi company, Mr. Trump is also becoming part of a project backed by the government of Oman itself.
The deal leaves Mr. Trump, as a former president hoping to win the White House again, effectively with a foreign government partner that has complex relations with the United States, including its role in trying to end the war in Yemen and other important foreign policy agenda items for Washington.
The deal Mr. Trump signed was with Dar Al Arkan, the Saudi-based real estate company that is leading the project in collaboration with the government of Oman, which owns the land. It is the second deal signed recently between Mr. Trump and his family that has direct financial ties to a Middle East government.
The Trump Organization also hosted the Saudi-government-backed LIV Golf tournaments at the family-owned golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida. The Saudi government’s $620 billion Public Investment Fund has financed the LIV Golf effort, which then paid venues like Trump National Doral in Miami and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey to host two of its tournaments this year.
The Trump administration, including Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, had close ties with Saudi Arabia during Mr. Trump’s tenure in the White House. Mr. Kushner has also received financial support from the Saudi government, a $2 billion investment in his newly formed private equity firm, Affinity Partners. [Continue reading…]