February 21, 2018

Menendez Probes U.S. Ambassador to Ensure Trump Jr.’s Trip to India Was Not Assisted by State Department

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster raising a series of questions and concerns around Donald Trump Jr.’s visit to India this week to promote real estate projects on behalf of the Trump Organization.

“Given the potential to confuse Mr. Trump’s private business visit with having an official governmental purpose, I write to ensure that the U.S. Embassy presence in India will have no role in supporting Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization during his time in India, other than that necessary to provide any security support for the U.S. Secret Service,” wrote Menendez. “I expect that the U.S. State Department, including  U.S. Embassy Delhi, will treat Mr. Trump no differently than it would any other American individual visiting on private business, and will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest.” 

Listing a series of questions to be answered by the end of the week on the plans for the U.S. Embassy and U.S. consulates in India around Donald Trump Jr.’s business trip, Menendez also raised concerns about his scheduled speech on Indo-Pacific relations at the Global Business Summit in Delhi on Friday, concluding: “I am concerned that Mr. Trump’s speech will send the mistaken message that he is speaking on behalf of the President, the Administration or the United States government, not as a private individual, or that he is communicating official American policy.  

The Senator’s full letter to Ambassador Juster can be found here and below:

 

The Honorable Kenneth Juster

Ambassador

Embassy of the United States

Shantipath, Chanakyapuri

New Delhi, Delhi 110021

India

Dear Ambassador Juster:

I am writing regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s visit to India this week to promote real estate projects on behalf of the Trump Organization.  As you are likely aware, India is home to more Trump Organization projects than any other country, and Mr. Trump’s visit has been heavily promoted in India.  Given the potential to confuse Mr. Trump’s private business visit with having an official governmental purpose, I write to ensure that the U.S. Embassy presence in India will have no role in supporting Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization during his time in India, other than that necessary to provide any security support for the U.S. Secret Service.

I also understand that while in India, Mr. Trump will give a foreign policy speech entitled “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation” at the Global Business Summit in Delhi.  Given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and multiple government ministers will speak at the same event, I am concerned that Mr. Trump’s speech will send the mistaken message that he is speaking on behalf of the President, the Administration or the United States government, not as a private individual, or that he is communicating official American policy.  

I expect that the U.S. State Department, including  U.S. Embassy Delhi, will treat Mr. Trump no differently than it would any other American individual visiting on private business, and will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest.  To that end, I ask that you confirm that the State Department, including the Embassy is not providing any special assistance or support for this visit, and that you provide the following:

  1. Will staff at the U.S. Embassy or any U.S. consulate in India brief Mr. Trump during his visit?  Do you plan on meeting Mr. Trump or with anyone from the Trump Organization?
  2. Will any personnel under Chief of Mission authority, including locally employed staff, provide support for the visit, including logistical support?  If so, please provide a list of the staff who will provide support for this visit.
  3. Regarding Mr. Trump’s speech before the Global Business Summit, please provide the specific steps that you took or will take to make clear to the Indian government and citizens of the country that Mr. Trump in no way speaks on behalf of the United States government.
  4. Have any embassy personnel provided any consultation to Mr. Trump in preparation for his policy speech before the Global Business Summit?  Did anyone from the State Department discuss this trip with anyone from the Trump Organization in advance of the visit?
  5. As part of the Trump Organization’s promotional efforts in India, ads in local newspapers have reportedly offered “a conversation and dinner” with Mr. Trump for $38,000.  Will the Embassy have any role in this event?
  6. Is the State Department or the Bureau of Diplomatic Security providing any services or expending any funds for any purpose other than providing coordination and support to the U.S. Secret Service for Mr. Trump’s visit? 

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter, and given the timely nature of this inquiry, I ask that you provide respond by the end of the week. 

Sincerely, 

Robert Menendez

Ranking Member 

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