One of the conspiracy theories en vogue on the left is that Vladimir Putin has dirt on Trump and may be “blackmailing” him. That theory was espoused by none other than independent candidate Evan McMullin, who was an undercover operative in the CIA.
“You know I hear from my old intelligence friends that Donald Trump has been engaged in some activities in Russia that Vladimir Putin may be using to blackmail Trump,” McMullin told CNN.
Now, another theory is being trotted out at MSNBC that Trump is in danger of being blackmailed by a foreign power. This time, Turkey. It all relates back to an alleged reference in a congratulatory phone call that Turkish President Trump Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made to new President-elect Donald Trump. Rachel Maddow, via Raw Story:
“The day after our presidential election in this country, one of the world leaders who called up Trump tower and spoke with the president-elect was the president of Turkey,” Maddow explained. “And one of the perk up your ears strange things reported about that call is that while Donald Trump was on the phone taking that congratulatory phone call from the president of Turkey, in that same call, Mr. Trump brought up to the president of Turkey by name that executive from the Doğan company, the guy who was the key guy on Trump’s big twin towers in Istanbul.”
Maddow continued, while mentioning Trump’s business relationships:
“Now Newsweek reports that Turkey has figured out how to turn that to their advantage and how to put the president of the United States over a barrel in the process,” Maddow explained. “On December 1st, the top representative of the Doğan company, in Turkey’s capital city, got arrested by the Turkish police. Again, Trump as president-elect had taken an official call from the Turkish president and used that occasion to tell the Turkish president how much this one particular company meant to him, going so far as to name specific executives.”
The full segment, which heavily relies on the Newsweek piece, can be viewed below:
The Newsweek story in question was published on Tuesday morning. It provides more details about the accusation:
Donald Trump hasn’t been sworn in yet, but he is already making decisions and issuing statements to world leaders that radically depart from American foreign policy, all to the benefit of his family’s corporate empire. Because of this, the next president of the United States is already vulnerable to undue influence by other nations, including through bribery and even blackmail.
Given the vast scope of the clashes between the Trumps’ extensive business dealings and the interests of America, the president-elect vowed during the campaign to eliminate potential conflicts by severing ties to his company—yet, with only weeks to go until he takes the oath of office, he hasn’t laid out a credible plan. Trump’s sole suggestion to date—a “blind trust” run by his children—would not eliminate the conflicts, given that the money generated would still go to his family.
Eichenwald is referring to promises that President-elect Trump has made, including on Twitter, that he will entrust his company’s dealings with his children; namely, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
The Newsweek article doesn’t stop at Turkey. It lists the Philippines, China, and Taiwan as other countries of concern. Rightly or wrong, it is clear a line of attack on the Trump presidency will be his extensive business relationships with nations across the world. It should be noted, for the record, such dealings were not of concern to the majority of the press when it came to suspect foreign contributions to The Clinton Foundation.