Washington, DC – The last couple of weeks the world was focused more on President Trump’s large family than on him.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s favorite daughter, represented the US at the Winter Olympics in South Korea where the North Koreans were also participating.
US Vice President Mike Pence was there earlier, but his presence generated negative news about his snubbing North Korean officials at the Winter Olympic Games, even as the two Koreas continued their temporary truce, marching and competing as one team. According to media reports, Pence was snubbed by the US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, who turned down a conversation request between the two. The openly gay Rippon had earlier criticized Pence and his policies affecting the LGBTQ community.
Ivanka in comparison, accompanied by White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, stole the limelight and mingled freely with US participants and their families.
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of President Trump, got the kind of media coverage in India usually reserved for a world leader. He pushed the sale of real estate projects in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. All the projects have the brand name of Trump, but not a dollar was invested by the family.
Patrick French, Professor for the Public Understanding of the Humanities, Ahmedabad University, tweeted a picture of full front page ads floated by the organizers, explicitly promoting the Trump name.
There was a mixed but essentially muted reaction from the Indians in India and abroad.
“It’s nice that the Trump administration is paying attention to India. Unfortunately, this trip by Trump Jr. suggests that it may be to feather their own nest. It’s sad that the US has come to this- like a banana republic- where we have to suspect the motives of our own President and his family,” said Shekar Narasimhan, Virginia based Chairman, AAPI Victory Fund, which is focused on mobilizing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) eligible voters and moving them to the ballot box.
From India, Saurabh Shukla, Founder and Editor in Chief of NewsMobile.in told IAT in a statement, “Trump junior is clearly cashing on the popularity of his dad President Trump and the recent spike in Indo-US ties to market a luxury sky scraper in Gurugram which has been overbooked despite real estate slow down,” adding, “It is Trump Jr’s real estate diplomacy with India.”
The US State Department, however, denied that Trump Jr. was representing the US Government led by his father or doing any US-India diplomacy. Addressing journalists at the daily press briefing at the State Department, the spokesperson Heather Nauert said “We certainly are aware that Trump is in the region, that he’s there as a private citizen, not as an official of the US government in any capacity.”
Nauert clarified that, “Any time we have an official or someone who would go over there who does have Secret Service protection, there is some amount of coordination and conversation. But overall, the US embassy does not have any kind of role in that visit,” she said.
The Trump Organization, formerly headed up by President Donald Trump, is an umbrella company for hundreds of investments in businesses including real estate. Donald Jr is now its executive director.
On the other hand, E. Nisar Khan, Managing Member of the New York based Tiigacom Group, commented, “The recent trip of Donald Jr to India entails the long passive initiation of the business ventures and a business relationship between India and Trump family is long and stands firm to its commitment for the future in shaping the path forward leading the new world order.” said Khan. Referring to earlier trip of Ivanka Trump’s earlier trip to a conference in the South Indian city of Hyderabad, Khan added, “This is the second-high level trip from the First Family into India.”
There was so much controversy generated over Trump Jr.’s speech, designed to address American foreign policy while on a family real estate business trip to India, that he finally abandoned it and instead gave an interview with an Indian journalist, sticking to safe topics.
“I’m here as a businessman,” Trump Jr. told a select audience around 2,000 business icons, political leaders and journalists, adding, “I’m not representing anyone.”
The question arises is it nepotism at the highest level or dedication of the US First Family to serve the nation?