In a possible attempt to cozy up to the president-elect, the embassy has chosen Donald Trump’s snazzy hotel for the Dec. 7 event over last year’s pick, the Ritz Carlton.
“They know that they will be currying favor with Donald Trump,” Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School told The Huffington Post.
“Around the world it’s regarded as an ordinary way of business that you favor the enterprises and businesses of the head of the government in order to get ahead of everybody else.”
Within the U.S., the media and political opponents have criticized Trump’s unwillingness to step away from his international business empire once he takes office, citing serious conflicts of interest.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that “legal documents are being crafted” which take him “completely out of business operations.” He said further details will be announced in a press conference on Dec. 15.
Traditionally, a U.S. president sells their business interests or puts them in a “blind trust” before taking office. Trump previously said he will be handing over control of his companies to his children. At the same time, he has expressed a desire for his children to be intimately involved in his administration. Trump’s daughter Ivanka has already sat in on meetings with foreign heads of state since the election.
Trump has insisted that the law is “totally” on his side. But he told the New York Times: “They’ll say I have a conflict because we just opened a beautiful hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, so every time somebody stays at that hotel, if they stay because I’m president, I guess you could say it’s a conflict of interest.”
Trump routinely attacked his political opponent Hillary Clinton for her relationship with Gulf countries and accused her of being part of a corrupt system. But that didn’t stop him from expanding his business in the Gulf while he was campaigning for the election.
He launched at least eight companies in Saudi Arabia during his presidential campaign. Within the Middle East, in addition to his Saudi business interests, the real estate mogul has four in Qatar, thirteen in the United Arab Emirates, four in Israel and two in Turkey.
“[Saudis] buy apartments from me,” Trump said during a campaign rally last year, according to The Hill.
“They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
— Jessica Schulberg (@jessicaschulb) 29 ноября 2016 г.
Whether or not Bahrain’s choice of hotel for its National Day event or Trump’s business interests throughout the Gulf will affect American foreign policy remains to be seen. Saudi Arabia recently hired a powerful new lobbyist to represent its interests in Washington, suggesting it’s not betting on simply buying the new president’s favor.