Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trump Firms Back out of Some Deals Worldwide Business Interests Pose Potential National and International Conflicts

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trump Firms Back out of Some Deals Worldwide Business Interests Pose Potential National and International Conflicts

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The Trump hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, would be "among the finest in the world," Donald Trump promised two years ago, another example of "our involvement in only the best global development projects."

But the dream of a world-class Trump Baku died this month. Mr. Trump said he backed out of the deal because of delays and blown deadlines by the developer, who has close family connections to the Azerbaijani government.

The demise of Trump Baku is not isolated. With Mr. Trump's inauguration as president a little over three weeks away, his company has pulled out of a few international business deals that might have created especially sticky conflicts and controversies for his administration.

In addition to Azerbaijan, the company began to back out of a deal in another former Soviet republic, Georgia. It also canceled a hotel project in Rio de Janeiro that had come up in a fraud investigation. Soon after the the election, the Trump Organization closed four companies formed this year seemingly in anticipation of a hotel deal in Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

Domestically, Mr. Trump's companies agreed to a union contract at his hotel in Las Vegas and a labor organizing campaign at his new hotel in Washington, D.C. His son Eric announced the suspension of activities by his charitable foundation after a Washington Post story questioned whether donors might get favorable treatment by the new administration.

Alan Garten, chief counsel for the Trump Organization, said the international moves were "business decisions, based purely on the status of the projects," not because the president-elect was scrambling to clean up potential conflicts before he takes office.

Mr. Trump himself was not involved, Mr. Garten said, only his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and other company executives.

"His focus is solely on filling out his Cabinet and turning the country around," Mr. Garten said of the president-elect.

Mr. Trump has said he will turn over operations of his company to his children. But that alone would not necessarily resolve conflicts, experts said. …

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