Ethics experts criticized a controversial letter sent from a law firm representing the Trump Organization to Panama’s president.
They said it the letter makes it appear as if President Donald Trump is trying to use the presidency for personal gain.
Ethics experts say a controversial letter sent from a law firm representing the Trump Organization to Panama’s president regarding a dispute is evidence that President Donald Trump is seeking to use his position for private gain.
On Monday, The Associated Press reported on the letter, noting that lawyers at Britton & Iglesias appealed directly to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela for help in a dispute over a luxury Panama City hotel.
The firm, representing the Trump Organization, asked Varela to intervene in the legal dispute, arguing that the courts denied the Trump Organization due process and violated a bilateral treaty. The AP reported that the letter also warned of consequences for Panama if he didn’t.
Britton & Iglesias said in a statement provided to Business Insider by the Trump Organization that they “categorically reject” the idea they sought to pressure Varela and that “nobody at Trump Organization was aware of the letter until today.”
The firm said it sent a letter to representatives of Panama’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government to warn of “possible violations of the Investment Protection Treaty, which could be derived by the actions taken by some owners of the hotel units, and that, in our opinion, could result in a possible ‘procedural fraud.'”
‘They seem to be unconcerned about the damage this is doing to the reputation and stature of the US’
Ethicists, meanwhile, said this example was just the latest evidence of why they wanted Trump to fully divest from his businesses ahead of taking office, and why they still want him to do so. Instead of divesting himself of his businesses or placing them into a blind trust before taking office, Trump passed control to his two sons and a senior Trump Organization executive — a move ethics experts said did not go far enough in addressing potential conflicts of interest.
“So, his company asking the president of Panama … to intervene in a business dispute that is in the Panamanian courts, citing a foreign treaty and implying that Panama would be seen as at fault if his business suffered damages, appears to be a not so subtle attempt to use the weight of Trump’s presidency for personal gain,” Larry Noble, the senior director and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, told Business Insider.
Noble added that this move is “a step beyond” past instances of conflicts involving Trump and his business.
“It appears the Trump Organization is trying to use his position to directly intervene in the judicial process of another country for his personal benefit,” he continued. “They seem to be unconcerned about the damage this is doing to the reputation and stature of the US.”
Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Business Insider that when …read more
Source:: Business Insider