Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is in India this week to promote his family’s real estate empire and more than $1 billion worth of luxury Trump Tower projects in four cities, but he still had time to praise India’s poor for their smiles.
“I don’t want to be glib but you can see the poorest of the poor and there is still a smile on a face,” Trump said Tuesday in an interview with CNBC’s Indian affiliate. For the interview, the Trump scion slicked back his hair and donned a dark suit and light blue silk tie. “It is a different spirit than that which you see in other parts of the world, and I think there is something unique about that.”
Trump added, “I know some of the most successful businessmen in the world, and some of them are the most miserable people in the world.”
Although India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, a rising number of millionaires and a growing market for luxury goods and services, many of its 1.3 billion people still live in grinding poverty. The country had a per capita income of $1,670 in 2016.
Trump, 40, was born and raised in Manhattan and attended prep schools before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, joining his father’s real estate business and appearing on his television program “The Apprentice.” After the election, the elder Trump did not divest himself from the business but turned day-to-day operations of his company to Don Jr. and his middle son, Eric, which has raised concerns about conflicts of interest.
Trump Jr.’s meeting with a group of Russians in 2016 is under scrutiny by investigators looking into Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election.
Trump arrived on his family’s private jet Monday for a week of schmoozing and dinners with India’s leading business leaders and to wine and dine buyers in the Trump Organization’s latest project. The Trumps have a licensing deal with two Indian developers for two towers outside the capital of New Delhi, where flats range in price from $780,000 to $1.6 million and have private elevators and concierge service.
Full-page glossy newspaper ads trumpeting Trump’s arrival also tempted buyers to reserve a flat (paying a booking fee of about $38,000) by Thursday to “join Mr. Donald Trump Jr. for a conversation and dinner” Friday. The buyers’ dinner has raised conflict of interest concerns and charges by watchdog groups.
“These ads illustrate the importance of Trump divesting from his business and the danger brought by his failure to divest. Trump’s company is literally se
lling access to the president’s son overseas,” said Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is frequently critical of the first family.
Trump will also give a foreign policy speech titled “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation” on Friday at a global business summit co-sponsored by the Economic Times newspaper, along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A State Department spokesman said Tuesday that Trump’s speech was not coordinated with the State Department and that she was not familiar with its contents.
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