Press release | Dec. 12, 2018

Trump’s conflicts of interest exposed with allegations that US foreign policy is up for sale to autocratic leaders across the world

Global Witness projects onto the Trump International Hotel allegations of how President Trump puts his business’s profits above the interests of the American people in his dealings with Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and The Philippines

December 12, 2018, Washington, D.C. – Today Global Witness projected onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. images of autocratic foreign leaders that President Trump has financial ties with – highlighting the conflicts of interest that continue to plague his presidency.

From Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Trump repeatedly praises iron-fisted, autocratic leaders who commit wide-scale human rights and corruption abuses. These leaders come from countries where he has ongoing, lucrative business deals, or are from countries that are his top clients.

As President of the US, Trump’s private businesses continue to make millions, whether through royalties from Trump-associated developments abroad or through foreign leaders and industry groups staying at his hotels in DC and New York, among other places. Trump has not fully separated himself from his business and remains the ultimate beneficiary of his companies.

“Trump has boasted that Saudis and Russians are his top clients – and records show that Mohammed bin Salman spent millions this year at the Trump Hotel in New York City, boosting their slumping revenues by 13%. Shortly following Trump’s election, Saudi Arabia also booked 500 rooms at the Trump International Hotel in DC for a campaign to lobby the US government,” said Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck, US Communications Manager at Global Witness.

It comes as no surprise then that Trump has refused to condemn the Saudi Crown Prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead he undermines and denies evidence presented to him by his own intelligence agencies about the Crown Prince’s link to the murder.

“Global Witness is projecting onto the Trump International Hotel in DC to shine a light on how Trump’s problematic foreign policy decisions are guided by his own economic interests. We’ve seen alarming cases where he praises autocratic leaders – like Putin or Duterte – or refuses to condemn regimes implicated in murders, such as in the case of Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi Crown Prince’s involvement,” said Miranda-Brobeck.

As the Mueller probe into Russian election interference and Russian collusion with the Trump campaign embroils key Trump associates, such as his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump’s foreign deals are again in the spotlight.

Recent media revelations indicate that as late as June 2016, after becoming Republican nominee for President, he was considering a business deal in Russia. He was also allegedly considering gifting Putin a $50 million dollar penthouse at a potential Trump Tower Moscow, although his lawyer has refuted this claim. These allegations raise concerns about whose interest Trump is really working in – the American public or his own private economic interest.

“It’s time for all of us to say enough is enough. The president should not be benefiting from the interests of his businesses while in office. The new Congress must pass a comprehensive conflicts of interest law that prevents any US President from pursuing private business while in office,” said Miranda-Brobeck.

“Otherwise, how can we be sure the President is working in the interest of the American public?”

  • Images of the projection can be found here. [Photo credit: Nathan Mitchell/Global Witness]
  • Footage of the projection can be found here [Footage by Eric Martin and Brandon Jourdan /] and here [Footage by Nathan Mitchell/Global Witness].



Notes to editor:

Global Witness projected the following onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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