There have long been credible allegations that Russian money waslaundered through the Trump Organization. If Russia could show that Trump, his business or his immediate family had benefited from tainted money or broken the law — or if Trump believed they could — it would mean that Russia could exert pressure on Trump to influence U.S. foreign policy.
The president’s behavior has done nothing to allay these concerns, including his inexplicable conduct in Helsinki, when he sided with Putin over his own intelligence agencies and appeared to accept Russia’s mendacious denial of involvement in the 2016 election.
But the concern goes beyond Russia, and extends to broader questions of financial conflict of interest. Following the murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, Trump has sought to excuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Is the president’s deference to Saudi Arabia based on geopolitical or security concerns, or is it based on his own financial interests? Although the president now denies having any financial ties to the Saudis, just a short time ago he was bragging about the many tens of millions of dollars the Saudis were spending on his apartments and how much he favored them as a result.