President-elect Donald Trump continues to test conflict-of-interest limits as he gears up to be president. In a recent call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump discussed a business partner in Istanbul.
According to the Daily Mail, Trump told Erdogan that Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, the son-in-law of Turkish businessman Aydin Dogan, is a “close friend” and “your great admirer.”
Dogan, who retired in 2010, owns Dogan Holdings, which licensed the Trump name. In 2010, Dogan opened Trump Towers Istanbul. Yalcindag was a key player in the opening of the project.
Yalcindag, who is currently a member of the Dogan Holding’s board of directors, attended Trump’s presidential victory party earlier in November.
In 2009, the Erdogan administration hit Dogan Holding with a $2.5 billion fine for speaking out publicly against the AKP (or Justice and Development Party), Erdogan’s political party.
“In the last decade, Erdogan put a huge amount of political and economic pressure on Dogan Group, which ended up with two outcomes,” Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Huffington Post. “One, sales of Dogan-owned media to government-owned businesses. Second, change of editorial tone and content. For example, prominent columnists have been fired. Editors have been demoted.”
But Norm Eisen, a former ethics official for President Barack Obama's administration, cautions Trump from blurring the lines between his business interests and his presidential duties.
“There should be a big, beautiful wall between his personal interests and the public interest,” Eisen said. “It’s only a matter of time before not only will his voters and the more than half of the voters who chose someone else get fed up, but when you disrespect these boundaries it’s an invitation to people to disrespect them back.”