Argentine media has accused President-elect Donald Trump of requesting special treatment for one of his businesses during a phone call with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Both the Trump team and Macri have emphatically denied the accusation.
On Nov. 14, Macri called Trump to congratulate him on his recent election. The two are previous business partners and Macri maintains that he used the phone conversation as an opportunity to catch up with an old friend to ensure diplomacy.
Following the phone conversation, reporter Jorge Lanata told Argentine media that Trump had asked Macri about a construction project that the business mogul is hoping to complete in Buenos Aires, USA Today reports.
"This still hasn't emerged but Trump asked for them to authorize a building he's constructing in Buenos Aires, it wasn't just a geopolitical chat," Lanata said.
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Trump has been attempting to construct a tower in Buenos Aires but the project has been slowed to a crawl amid permitting issues. If Lanata's recollection of the phone call is correct, then Trump had leveraged his status as president-elect to benefit his personal wealth.
"If this is true — if — it is a terrible, terrible sign," tweeted out conservative columnist Peggy Noonan. "Presidents. Can't. Do. This."
Both Trump and the Macri have denied Lanata's version of events. Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller stated that the accusation was false.
A spokesman for president Macri told reporter Will Carless that Trump's project in Buenos Aires never came up during their conversation.
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"They didn't talk about the [Trump] tower at all," the spokesman said. "It's absolutely untrue."
Macri's recollection of the phone conversation revealed that he had also spoken with Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump.
"At the end of the president's call with [Donald] Trump, the phone was passed to Ivanka so he could say hello," a spokesman for Macri told Reuters. "They have known each other since she was quite young."
Donald has decided against placing his businesses into a blind trust, and instead shifting ownership over to Ivanka and the other elder Trump children. All three of his eldest children have roles in his presidential transition team, raising eyebrows over how his businesses may benefit from government access.
On Nov. 21, Donald took to social media to address the concerns over his potential conflicts-of-interest, asserting that his voters were aware of this when they helped elect him.
"Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world," he tweeted out. "Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!"
On Nov. 22, reporter Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted out a response Donald had given when asked about his potential conflicts of interest during an on-the-record meeting.
"Trump on his businesses/conflict q's: 'The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest,'" Haberman tweeted out.