President Trump plugged a Chinese telecom firm in a tweet, which caused a political firestorm. The reasoning is that the president ran on a platform built around “creating jobs” for Americans, which now seems concerned with saving Chinese jobs, at least that’s the way Democrats are viewing it.
I think it’s safe to assume that when Trump sent out this tweet, he didn’t realize that the company he’s promoting here is the same company that was hit with sanctions last month when it was caught secretly breaking sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea.
American intelligence agencies also previously identified ZTE as a security risk. Not to mention the fact that the Pentagon also banned phones manufactured by ZTE from retail outlets on U.S. military bases out of concern that they could be used by the Chinese government to spy.
Putting the president under further scrutiny is, according to the South East China Morning Post, a development project to build a theme park in Indonesia, with financial connections to Trump including hotels, housing, shopping, and a golf course with Trump branding, has been selected by China to be part of their “Belt and Road” infrastructure, meaning it will receive an injection of $500 million in funding directly from the Chinese government.
According to Richard Painter, the chief ethics official for the George W. Bush administration, this is a huge no-no as Trump’s Indonesian project is a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which is designed to prevent the bribery of elected officials.
And Painter isn’t the only expert chiming in, either, as Norm Eisen, the chief ethics official for the Obama administration has taken to Twitter to make the same accusation.
Without saying much, both experts have said a lot. And Eisen’s last sentence reads more as a promise than as a threat. At this point, it seems as if Trump’s court date is no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.”