I subscribed to Newsweek magazine for many years. The advent of the internet news cycle rendered it so irrelevant that I don’t even recall when I let my subscription lapse. It may be ephemeral but Newsweek is relevant again because of Kurt Eichenwald’s fascinating cover story on the Trump Organization and national security.
Eichenwald addresses Trump’s transition from developer to brand licensor in great detail. It turns out that the Insult Comedian hasn’t built anything since 2007; instead, he’s been selling the Trump brand to an assortment of crooked and politically connected developers across the globe. And I thought he was opposed to crony capitalism. The most interesting segment is about the Trump Organization’s operations in Turkey:
In 2008, the Trump Organization struck a branding deal with the Dogan Group, named for its owners, one of the most politically influential families in Turkey. Trump and Dogan first agreed that the Turkish company would pay a fee to put the Trump name on two towers in Istanbul.
When the complex opened in 2012, Trump attended the ribbon-cutting and declared his interest in more collaborations with Turkish businesses and in making significant investments there. In a sign of the political clout of the Dogan family, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Trump and even presided over the opening ceremonies for the Trump-branded property.
However, the Dogans have fallen out of favor, and once again, a Trump partner is caught up in allegations of criminal and unethical activity. In March, an Istanbul court indicted Aydin Dogan, owner and head of the Dogan Group, on charges he engaged in a fuel-smuggling scheme. Dogan has proclaimed his innocence; prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of more than 24 years.
With the Dogans now politically radioactive, Erdogan struck at the family’s business partner, Trump, for his anti-Muslim rhetoric. In June, Erdogan called for the Trump name to be removed from the complex in Istanbul and said presiding over its dedication had been a mistake.
This is no minor skirmish: American-Turkish relations are one of the most important national security issues for the United States. Turkey is among the few Muslim countries allied with America in the fight against the Islamic State militant group; it carries even greater importance because it is a Sunni-majority nation aiding the U.S. military against the Sunni extremists. Turkey has allowed the U.S. Air Force to use a base as a major staging area for bombing and surveillance missions against ISIS. A Trump presidency, according to the Arab financier in direct contact with senior Turkish officials, would place that cooperation at risk, particularly since Erdogan, who is said to despise Trump, has grasped more power following a thwarted coup d’état in July.
I wonder if the Trumpers will spin this as an example of an authoritarian strong man who hates the Donald? Perhaps his business related feud with Erdogan is part of Trump’s secret plan to defeat ISIL. Probably not…
Trump’s supporters have been attacking Kurt Eichenwald in the vilest terms on Twitter and via email. Anyone surprised? Here’s one of his more memorable ripostes:
Nice. I hope Mr. Eichenwald keeps digging into Trump’s sleazy business affairs. Well done, sir.
It may not last, but for the moment Newsweek is relevant again.