By Drew Harwell
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Bedford, N.H. (John Locher/AP)
Donald Trump’s business empire owes hundreds of millions of dollars to a giant German bank cast into crisis by settlement negotiations with the Justice Department, a relationship some lawyers say sheds light on the massive financial entanglements he could face as president.
Federal regulators are seeking a $14 billion fine from Deutsche Bank, Trump’s top lender, to settle claims that the bank issued toxic mortgages amid the housing crisis. German media have suggested the bank has sought a state bailout that could lead to partial ownership of the bank by the German government.
A settlement could be reached before a new president takes office, but government-ethics experts say the Deutsche Bank situation is a stark reminder of how Trump could face a conflicting set of interests as the nation’s negotiator in chief.
As head of the executive branch, he’d oversee the Justice Department and the United States’ relations with the rest of the world. But he’d still have a lengthy series of financial relationships with private institutions and countries with business before the United States.
“It’s certainly foreseeable that he could intervene with the DOJ so as to not upset the financing of his companies,” said Trevor Potter, a former Federal Election Commission chairman and general counsel of George H.W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
It’s “unthinkable in recent history,” Potter said, that “there’s the possibility of a president being able to affect his own personal financial interests, conceivably to the detriment of the general public.”
Alan Garten, executive vice president and general counsel of the Trump Organization, said, “I don’t see the conflict,” and drew a parallel to Democratic nominee …read more