Paul Blumenthal writes at The Huffington Post:Jonathan O'Connell and Mary Jordan report at The Washington Post:
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first foreign head of state to meet in person with President-elect Donald Trump, a photograph taken of the official event at Trump Tower in Manhattan showed a curious attendee: Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
The appearance of Ivanka Trump, who is vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, raises alarm bells for those concerned about the unprecedented potential for conflicts of interest involving the incoming president.
With her two brothers, Don Jr. and Eric, Ivanka has taken the reins of her father’s vast global business empire through a so-called blind trust. (It is not a blind trust.) At the same time, the three adult children are on Trump’s transition team, giving him advice and, apparently, meeting with dignitaries from countries where they could do business in the near future.
“They shouldn’t be on the transition team because they’re going to be running the business,” said Richard Painter, who was White House ethics czar under George W. Bush. “I don’t know why they’re on the transition team. It’s a clear conflict of interest.”
Federal conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to the president, but that does not mean that Trump’s business holdings do not create the appearance of conflicts if not actual conflicts. They are, in fact, unprecedented.
Back when many expected Trump to lose the election, speculation was rife that business would suffer at the hotels, condos and golf courses that bear his name. Now, those venues offer the prospect of something else: a chance to curry favor or access with the next president.
Perhaps nowhere is that possibility more obvious than Trump’s newly renovated hotel a few blocks from the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue. Rooms sold out quickly for the inauguration, many for five-night minimums priced at five times the normal rate, according to the hotel’s manager.
To many of the guests at the reception Tuesday, accepting an invitation to tour the $212 million hotel and check out the $20,000-a-night, 6,300-square-foot “town house” suite seemed like a good idea. They spoke admiringly about the renovation and left with a goody bag of chocolates and a brochure. It listed the choices of accommodations and meeting rooms and expounded on the location’s “striking prominence” at historical moments such as the Inauguration Day parade.
“Believe me, all the delegations will go there,” said one Middle Eastern diplomat who recently toured the hotel and booked an overseas visitor. The diplomat said many stayed away from the hotel before the election for fear of a “Clinton backlash,” but that now it’s the place to be seen.CNN reports:
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's preferred choice for National Security Adviser, was running a company that was lobbying on behalf of foreign clients even as he was receiving classified intelligence briefings during the campaign.
The revelation comes as the Trump camp has taken a series steps to curb the involvement of lobbyists in the presidential transition efforts.
Robert Kelley, a former chief counsel to the House National Security Subcommittee and current general counsel and principal at the Flynn Intel Group, filed a lobbying disclosure report with Congress on September 15.
According to the official document, Kelley was working on behalf of Inovo BV, a Dutch firm owned by Turkish businessman, Kamil Ekim Alptekin.