Trump’s Turkey ties show broader pattern of abuses of power - senator

Unanswered questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s financial interests in Turkey point to a broader pattern of conflicts of interest and abuse of power, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen told Newsweek.

Trump’s tolerant approach to Turkey despite a series of provocative foreign policy moves is well known. The U.S. president shielded Turkey from sanctions after it bought S-400 missile defence systems from Russia and gave tacit approval for Turkey’s military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria in October.

Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, suggested at a private event after leaving the administration that the president’s personal financial interest may be influencing his Turkey policy.

"I think the fact that his former National Security Advisor John Bolton referenced that as an element in the president's approach is very telling," Van Hollen told Newsweek.

"This is the president's national security adviser," the Democratic Party senator said. "I know he didn't elaborate a lot, but the fact that he mentioned that as an influence on President Trump's policy towards Turkey is incredibly disturbing."

Before he was elected president in 2016, Trump himself described the Trump Towers in Istanbul as a “little conflict of interest”, though the Trump Organization does not own the buildings.

But many suspect far deeper financial ties, and a web of ties link Trump’s close associates including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and son-in-law Jared Kushner to Turkey.

The U.S. president has broken with convention by refusing to divest of his business interests while in office, and since he has not disclosed his tax returns or answered questions on his financial ties to Turkey, the full extent of these links remains unclear.

Van Hollen said these interests feed into a "broader pattern where the president is putting his personal financial interests above the interests of the United States. So this is a very troubling pattern."