Donald Trump Jr., who runs his father’s business, tweets almost as manically as the president, and slams the media and critics anytime Fox News calls him, says he likes the Indian media because they’re polite and don’t ask too many questions.
Wrapping up a trip to India this week to promote more than $1 billion of Trump luxury towers in four cities, Trump Jr. said he loves the Indian media because it is “mild and nice” compared with the U.S. media.
Speaking at a Global Business Summit in New Delhi, Trump Jr. said, “I am the first person in the history of India to say I love the Indian media. They are so mild and nice,” New Delhi Television reported. Then he launched into an attack on The Washington Post for reporting a story earlier this week about Trump Jr.’s admiration for poor people in India who manage to smile despite their situation.
“It wasn’t me coming here for first time. It was me coming here after 10 years. So everybody understood what I meant. But the ‘Washington Post’ the next day said — ‘Donald Trump Jr likes poor people because they smile,’” he said.
He told The Times of India the same story, adding, “The Indian press is rough at times too but perhaps a little more fair than the US press which is a total disaster! Anything I say can and will be manipulated to suit their narrative.” Yet, in the same interview, the Times acknowledged that Trump Jr.’s minders had warned reporters not to ask any “political questions.”
Nauzer Bharucha, senior editor of The Times of India, confirmed the political gag order in a Twitter exchange with the India bureau chief for The Washington Post. “[W]e were given just 10 minutes with him and constantly warned by his minders not to ask any politically-loaded questions,” Bharucha said.
There is good reason for this directive. The Trump Organization—which President Donald Trump still controls, despite his claims to the contrary—has much at stake in India, the company’s biggest foreign market. The Trumps have five real estate licensing projects in four cities across India, and developers had taken out full–page ads in local newspapers ahead of Trump Jr.’s visit. With the business relying entirely on the strength of the Trump brand, essentially there is no separation between Trump the president and the Trump the organization.
According to CNN Money, Trump–branded apartments worth $100 million have already been sold at Trump Towers in Gurgaon. And $15 million in sales were secured on Monday alone after the newspaper ads touting “Trump has arrived” were published. The Trump Organization has licensing contracts with developers near New Delhi for luxury apartments ranging from $780,000 to $1.6 million, according to The Washington Post.
So, asking tough questions is in order, given the clear conflicts of interest and the fact that President Trump had promised the Trump Organization would not sign any new deals while he was in office.
Norman Eisen, chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told CNN, “They are auctioning off access to the first family in a foreign land.” He added, “What is to stop a foreign national with interests before the U.S. government from asking Don Junior to raise some issue or concern with his father? We know that father and son talk all the time, and discuss business.”
Jordan Libowitz, also of CREW, told The Washington Post, “Trump’s company is literally selling access to the president’s son overseas.”
But no political questions, please.
And just to prove Junior is a chip off the old block, he bragged about being better at eating spicy food than Indian people. “I can handle spice,” he said. “Especially when they go: No, no, no… you’re an American you can’t, I’m like I promise I can. Oftentimes, better than the locals.”