Donald Trump Jr., visiting India this week, pushed back against “nonsense” accusations that he is profiting from his father's presidency, saying the family gets no credit “for doing the right thing” and pledging no new foreign business deals.
Trump Jr. told Indian television channel CNBC-TV18 on Tuesday that accusations of “profiteering from the presidency” were “nonsense” and that the critics forget about “the opportunity cost of the deals that we were not able to do.”
“It’s sort of a shame. Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit for actually doing that ... for doing the right thing,” he added.
President Donald Trump pledged to make no new foreign business deals while he occupies the White House. Trump Jr. is in India to promote business agreements inked before his father took office.
But U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has criticized the trip, urging the U.S. State Department and embassy to treat Trump Jr. as any other American citizen and avoid “any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest.”
The senator asked Ambassador Kenneth Juster whether the son of the president was briefed during the visit or provided any support staff. He also asked whether any steps were taken “to make clear to the Indian government and citizens of the country that Mr. Trump (Jr.) in no way speaks on behalf of the United States government.”
Trump Jr. may be sharing the stage with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a New Delhi business summit and give a speech on Indo-Pacific relations. Some U.S. Embassy employees may be present during the event but the ambassador will neither attend nor meet Trump Jr.
The State Department is aware of the trip, but noted that Trump Jr. is visiting as a private citizen. "We certainly are aware that Mr Trump is in the region, that he's there as a private citizen, not as an official of the U.S. government in any capacity," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday during her daily news conference.
Nauert added that the U.S. Embassy in India is in contact with Secret Service personnel who provide protection to Trump Jr.
"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 U.S. Embassy does not have any kind of role in that visit," she said.
"He is there as a private citizen and I don't have any comment beyond that regarding his trip.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.