More Details About That Trump/Macri Call

Associated Press
November 22, 2016

It turns out there's even more behind the story of last week's call between Donald Trump and Argentine President Mauricio Macri, separate from a report on Argentine television that Trump asked Macri for help getting approval for a planned Trump-branded office tower in Buenos Aires. Both parties denied Monday that the two leaders discussed the project on that call.

However, the Argentine press also reported that Macri was able to get through to the President-elect in the first place because Trump's partner in the Buenos Aires project facilitated their connection. That detail was surfaced last night by Susan Simpson, a lawyer who specializes in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and went on a tweetstorm about the Trump project in the capital.

Citing sources in the private sector, La Nación reported that Felipe Yaryura, the business partner developing the Buenos Aires tower who was photographed celebrating with Eric Trump on election night in New York, was one of the people who put Susana Malcorra, the foreign minister, in contact with the Trump scion. Yaryura has a direct line to the Trump children after working with them to develop Trump Tower Punta del Este in neighboring Uruguay.

In the lead-up to the U.S. election, Macri had voiced support for Hillary Clinton. There was only one person on his staff who thought Trump even had a shot at winning on Election Day, according to the report: A top aide and confidant named José Torello. La Nación reported it's an open secret in business circles that in the weeks leading up to the election, Torello invited Yaryura to the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace, and continued to meet with him to establish a relationship. Torello spent Election Day in Washington, D.C., according to the report, and once it became clear that Trump had won reached out to Yaryura in order to put Macri's team in touch with Trump's.

Sources who facilitated the Trump-Macri connection told La Nación that Eric Trump's conversation with the Argentine foreign minister was "friendly and cordial" and that he also put her in touch with his father's foreign policy team (the foreign minister's office wouldn't comment on the story). According to the timeline laid out in the report, she and Trump spoke Nov. 10 and agreed that when his father's busy schedule cleared, the President-elect would speak with Macri by phone. The two leaders then hopped a call on Nov. 14.

Macri's office said Ivanka Trump briefly spoke with the Argentine president on the same call. A Macri spokesman told the Guardian that Ivanka Trump did not discuss the planned tower, either.

The Macri family and the Trumps have an interesting relationship dating back to a failed attempt to strike a deal on some New York City real estate in the early '80s. But the report from La Nación on the genesis of their phone call last week suggests that, at least during this busy and chaotic transition period, it's easier for Trump's business partner to get through to the President-elect and his family than it is for a fellow head of state to do the same.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.