Trump Jr declares ‘love’ for Indian media during controversial business trip
Mr Trump Jr has met with carefully selected Indian reporters since coming to India, with coverage often focusing on real estate developments he is selling.
The US president’s eldest son has heaped praise on the Indian media and accused American journalists of unfair criticism, as he neared the end of a controversial trip across India promoting Trump-brand luxury real estate.
Donald Trump Jr said at an Indian business summit that life since his father’s election “has been difficult from a family standpoint”, but that he had enjoyed the coverage he received during this trip.
“I love the Indian media. They are so mild and nice,” he said, to audience laughter.
Mr Trump Jr has met with carefully selected Indian reporters since coming to India, with coverage often focusing on the promised luxury of the real estate developments he is selling.
Hours earlier, as criticism mounted that Mr Trump Jr was pushing an ethics boundary by making what seemed to be a foreign policy speech at the Global Business Summit, conference organisers hurriedly changed the speech’s title.
Very quickly, “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The Era of Cooperation” became “A Fireside Chat with Donald Trump Jr”.
With summer already approaching, it is far too warm for cosy fires in New Delhi. But flames flickered on a video screen behind Mr Trump Jr as he was interviewed by a TV anchor with the channel co-hosting the business summit.
Critics had said that Mr Trump Jr airing his views on international relations, especially while sharing a platform with senior Indian government officials — including Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was problematic because of the implication that he has his father’s ear.
Senator Robert Menendez, ranking Democrat on the US senate foreign relations committee, said in a letter to the US embassy in New Delhi: “I am concerned that Mr Trump’s speech will send the mistaken message that he is speaking on behalf of the president, the administration or the United States government, not as a private individual, or that he is communicating official American policy.”
Mr Menendez said he expects that the US state department and the embassy will treat Mr Trump Jr like any other American on private business and “will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest”.
On Thursday, White House spokeswoman Lindsay E Walters said the Trump administration “takes seriously its obligation to ensure that government resources are not used to provide a private benefit to anyone”.
She added: “Donald Trump Jr is a private individual and neither the state department nor the White House has provided any support for this trip beyond coordinating with his Secret Service protection.”
Mr Trump Jr’s India visit has already raised ethical concerns.
President Trump has pledged to stay away from any new foreign business deals during his term in office to avoid potential ethical conflicts. While the projects that Mr Trump Jr is promoting in India were signed off before his father was elected, ethics experts have long seen the use of the Trump name to promote even existing business ventures as tricky territory.
Mr Trump Jr and his brother Eric have been running the Trump Organisation, the family’s real estate business, during their father’s presidency.