The Historic Cash-in Continues

President-elect Donald Trump calls out to the media as he and Betsy DeVos pose for photographs at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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We’ve got another. A long-stalled Trump building project in Georgia (the country) is back on track and ready to go just days after Donald Trump’s election. That’s major new nugget in a WaPo round up of how Trump’s election less than three weeks ago is already turbocharging Trump building projects around the globe.

Remember that Argentine building project which Trump reportedly asked about? Good news! It’s back on track and good to go, according to an announcement from Trump’s Argentine business partner, Felipe Yaryuri. That announcement came three days after Trump spoke to President Mauricio Macri. And yes, you remember right. It was Yaryuri who Macri had to go to to help arrange the call in which Macri congratulated Trump on his election.

Those two revelations aside, these are the two paragraphs that stand out to me …

All of it highlights the muddy new world that Trump’s election may usher in — a world in which his stature as the U.S. president, the status of his private ventures across the globe and his relationships with foreign business partners and the leaders of their governments could all become intertwined.

In that world, Trump could personally profit if his election gives a boost to his brand and results in its expansion overseas. His political rise could also enrich his overseas business partners — and, perhaps more significantly, enhance their statuses in their home countries and alter long-standing diplomatic traditions by establishing them as new conduits for public business.

The tone and assumptions contained in these two paragraphs are the key. What is being described here is a personalization of diplomacy and self-enrichment that generations of laws and norms are meant to prevent. But it’s the “muddy new world” Trump appears to be ushering in. My point here isn’t to criticize the reporters. This may simply be an accurate representation of the reality. But it brings into sharp relief how rapidly the normalization is happening.

We’ve literally never had a case anything like this in all of American history. The era of transparency and blind trusts has made this impossible for the last forty or so years. Before that you had very wealthy men like the Roosevelts and others. But they were old money, not engaged in active deal-making and business ventures. Of course for much of American history – really almost up until the lifetimes of most of us reading – a developer being actively involved in building and licensing projects in Georgia, Argentina, India, Scotland and numerous other countries wasn’t remotely feasible.

We’re not even three weeks in. It’s apparently already Trump’s call if that’s how he wants to proceed.

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