For a President Trump, global real estate deals present unprecedented gray areas

Construction on the Trump International Hotel & Tower here in Azerbaijan’s capital stopped last year when the country’s oil-driven economy crashed amid plummeting oil prices. The local owner and developer, facing potentially huge losses, is scrambling to renegotiate contracts and get the building open.

But Donald Trump, who invested virtually no money in the project while selling the rights to use his name and holding the contract to manage the property, has made millions. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee reported $2.5 million in income from the project between January 2014 and July 2015 and an additional $323,000 in management fees in the months since, according to his financial disclosure report.

If elected, Trump would be the first U.S. president to preside over a global business empire, one that includes seven resorts, hotels and other projects in foreign countries, 11 more under construction and plans for many more. Among them are properties in nations where the United States has important economic and national security concerns — such as Turkey, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan — that could put Trump’s personal business interests on a collision course with the duty of a president to act solely in the best interest of the United States.