Donald Trump Jr has any talk that his family is profiting from his father’s presidency is “nonsense” as he embarked on a highly publicised visit to India to promote property deals.
The eldest son of the US president is in the Asian country to meet the promoters and buyers of Trump-brand luxury homes, raising ethical concerns about using the name of the American leader to promote business ventures internationally.
But Mr Trump Jr told Indian television channel CNBC-TV18 that his family is instead missing out on business opportunities because his father pledged to conduct no new foreign business while he was in office.
Mr Trump Jr, who along with his brother Eric now runs the Trump Organisation, said when critics talk about them “profiteering from the presidency and all this nonsense”, they forget about “the opportunity cost of the deals that we were not able to do”.
“It’s sort of a shame. Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit for actually doing that … for doing the right thing,” he added.
For at least a week before Mr Trump Jr arrived in India on Tuesday, several major Indian newspapers carried glossy, front-page advertisements with the statement “Trump has arrived. Have you?”
The ads promised that buyers who order apartments in a new Trump-brand luxury property development in a suburb of the capital, New Delhi, by Thursday will get “a conversation and dinner” with the US president’s son a day later.
Mr Trump Jr is expected to visit and promote business in all the Trump-brand projects across four Indian cities. Media access to his events in the country has been limited and only news organisations chosen by his team have had access to him.
The Trump Organisation has licensing agreements with all its Indian business partners. They build the properties and acquire the Trump name in exchange for a fee. With five projects in India, the country is the brand’s largest market outside the United States.
A luxury complex is already open in the central city of Pune, with other developments in varying stages of construction in the coastal cities of Mumbai and Kolkata, and two in Gurgaon.
All the projects were signed before President Trump took office, but promoting even existing business has raised ethics concerns.
“The president should be putting the public’s interest before his business interests. That can’t happen if his son is flying around the world trying to trade on the fact that his father is sitting in the Oval Office,” said Scott H Amey, general counsel for the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight in Washington.
Mr Amey added that several foreign deals touted by the president’s two adult sons have “stretched the definition of what ventures were previously in the works”. Mr Trump Jr has made several visits to India over the years and has repeatedly talked of great business opportunities in the country.