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Trump Inc – a podcast series from ProPublica and WNYC – S01 E09 – ”Former Indian Official: Donald Trump Jr. Pushed ‘Blatantly Illegal’ Project “

09/01/2019

Reflecting on 2018 and considering how the blog has increasingly used podcast material, Adam came across this (H/T New Yorker)

About the series

Podcasts are a good form for presenting the surreality of this era, Eric Umansky, an editor at ProPublica, told me recently. “You can capture the absurdity in ways that you can’t in text,” he said. The excellent investigative podcast that he works on, “Trump Inc.,” from WNYC and ProPublica, began in February and concludes next week. Its premise is at once straightforward and audacious: it asks big, specific questions about Donald Trump’s famously mysterious business dealings, including those concerning possible connections between his Presidency and his profits; investigates them; and encourages listeners to pitch in and help. It features several personable, savvy-sounding reporters: Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, of WNYC, and Jesse Eisinger and Heather Vogell, of ProPublica, and it has a collaborative spirit. Reporters from other outlets (including The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson) offer additional information and insights. One episode features David Fahrenthold, of the Washington Post, answering listener questions; another was inspired by a comment that Fahrenthold made about Trump suing local municipalities in which he had businesses; a listener tip resulted in a mini-episode about Trump commissioning golf-tee markers with the Presidential seal on them. Umansky told me that one “superfan” listener “went to the courthouse in Westchester to look up cases for us.” Everybody gets to be a detective. Or, as the show’s Web site puts it, “Help Us Dive Into the Swamp.” 

https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/trump-inc-podcast-former-indian-official-donald-trump-jr-pushed-blatantly-illegal-project

Last month, Donald Trump Jr. visited India to tout new Trump properties. Full page ads in India’s top papers announced, “Trump has arrived. Have you?”

It wasn’t Trump Jr.’s first trip to India. “I’ve been coming to India for over a decade,” he said during the visit. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit here…it needs no further explanation.”

This week on Trump Inc., we’re looking at the Trumps’ years-long work in India, where corruption in the real estate industry is endemic.

We worked with Investigative Fund reporter Anjali Kamat, whose reporting on the Trumps’ business in India appears in the new issue of The New Republic.

As with many of the company’s deals abroad, the Trump Organization’s India projects are licensing deals. Trump Jr. has been closely involved in much of the work.

The Trumps’ first India project, in Mumbai, was halted in early 2012 after investigators found significant “irregularities.” The investigators had been tipped off by a state lawmaker who suspected a possible $100 million fraud scheme and warned of “gross violations” in the project’s plans. Authorities revoked the building’s permits.  

A few months later, in April 2012, Trump Jr. traveled to Mumbai and, along with his Indian business partners, met with a top official to try to get the project restarted.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, the equivalent of a U.S. governor, had been told Trump Jr. wanted to discuss investing in the state. But instead, Chavan recalled, Trump Jr. and his partners asked Chavan to overturn the decision to revoke the permits.

Chavan declined.

“I would get into trouble to sanction something that was blatantly illegal,” he told Kamat. The plans were “not within the existing rules.” (Chavan has described the encounter to the New York Times and Washington Post, though he has not previously called the project “blatantly illegal.”)

The Trumps were back in India in 2014, after a new government came into power, Narendra Modi’s political party, the BJP. The Trump Tower Mumbai — a gold-hued skyscraper that the Trump Organization describes as “unlike anything you have ever seen” — is now slated to finished next year. It is one of five Trump-affiliated projects currently under development in India.

The Trump Organization said the projects are doing well. One Trump partner said they booked $15 million in sales on just one day during the visit by Trump Jr. It was the last day buyers would qualify for an offer by the Trump Organization’s partners to dine with the president’s son. Most of the names of buyers in the Trump projects have not been disclosed.

The Trump Organization, the White House and the developers for the projects did not respond to our requests for comment.

Remember, we want to hear from you: Do you have information about Trump-branded projects in India? Or do you have photos of them? Let us know…

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