Politics

Trump Jr.'s Paid Speech In Dubai Sparks Controversy

| by Sheena Vasani

Donald Trump Jr. sparked controversy after he gave a commencement speech in Dubai.

Following the footsteps of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Donald Trump Jr. was paid to speak at the graduation ceremony at the American University in Dubai, CBS News reports.

"It's a unique experience for me to be talking to a crowd like this," he said to the graduates in his 14-minute speech. "I've gotten to speak in Dubai over the years but always in a business setting and as of late, all of the speaking that I have done has been largely related to politics. So I truly welcome this break."

Donald Trump Jr. also took the opportunity to praise his father, President Donald Trump.

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"For a billionaire to step away from an amazing life and spend $75 million to go up against an incredible Republican field and then go up against one of the great political machines ever assembled ... to do that was amazing," he later added, reports the Daily Mail.

While the Trump organization declined to reveal how much he had been paid, the university gave Clinton $150,000 in 2002 and paid Powell $60,000.

To many, it was a worrisome possible conflict of interest given Donald Trump Jr. and his brother, Eric Trump, both run the Trump Organization. To some, such speeches naturally only bolster the Trump brand.

"It hasn't always been a positive name recognition in the UAE, especially after calls for the travel ban," said Karen Young, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. "Some very prominent business people did not want an affiliation with Trump at all."

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"Since he has become president that has faded," she continued. "The Trump brand is ascendant, you could say in the Gulf States."

Adding further concern to some is the fact that, although the university is private, the ruler of Dubai helped create the school and still holds a stake in it. This makes some wonder if the country is trying to win the U.S. president's favor through the speech.

Donald Trump Jr. presented degrees alongside Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the son of Dubai's ruler.

Many on social media found Donald Trump Jr.'s speech problematic.

"Bad timing on the kid's part," wrote one Daily Mail reader. "The independent counsel has the right to investigate anything done by the trump family and any money their making on the side. I'm sure this will be one of the things he investigates."

Sources: CBS News, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Max Goldberg/Flickr

 

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