Highlighting the appearance of “cronyism, nepotism, abuses of power, and conflicts of interest” in U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent negotiations to rescue the failing Chinese telecom giant ZTE after Beijing dumped $500 million into a major Trump development project in Indonesia, the watchdog group Common Cause sent a letter (pdf) to two key congressional committees on Thursday calling for a probe into whether Trump is “abusing his office to enrich his family.”

“The office of the president is not intended for self-enrichment, but the president and members of the Trump family have seen a massive windfall since Donald Trump took office.”
—Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause

“To help set the record straight, we respectfully ask you to hold oversight hearings to investigate the administration’s interactions with ZTE and the Chinese government to determine if there were any laws and/or regulations that were broken,” read’s Common Cause’s letter, which was sent to all members of both the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The letter goes on to demand that the committees request answers to these four specific questions:

  • Were the trademarks granted to Ivanka Trump’s business a direct part of the negotiations with China? Their timing raises significant concerns about conflicts of interest that exist when a business is based on the value of a brand name that is still inherently connected to an individual who wields political power and influence.
  • To what degree was President Trump personally involved in these deals?
  • If President Trump wasn’t directly involved in these negotiations, did he order anyone to establish certain parameters for the deal, such as the Chinese government granting trademarks for his daughter’s business.
  • Have ZTE and the Chinese government lobbied the administration about the deal? Have they legally registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)?


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