President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., appears to have friends who are benefiting tremendously from having a buddy so close to the president.
NBC has reported that Trump Jr.’s longtime hunting buddy, the Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach, was a key asset for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign as he helped the campaign raise millions of dollars. And once Trump was elected, it appears that either this close relationship, his hands-on involvement during the campaign, or both paid off, as he has allegedly made good use of his special access to top officials ever since.
Trump Jr. had already been under scrutiny for claiming that he and Beach were just good friends. Records show that not only were they involved in business deals in the past, they also recently formed a company known as Future Venture LLC together.
Now, reports show that Beach had a meeting with top officials at Trump’s National Security Council (NSC) in February 2017 to urge them to lighten the U.S.-backed sanctions against Venezuela. The effort was meant to create business opportunities for American companies in Venezuela, a change of policy that would, indeed, benefit Beach.
According to an unnamed former U.S. official who allegedly knew of the proposal, the officials were only instructed to participate in the meeting because Beach and the Iraqi-American businessman who showed up with him were friends of the president’s son.
Noah Bookbinder, the head of the public policy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, addressed that if the relationship between the president’s son and Beach really facilitated this meeting, there could be reason for concern.
"This feeds into the same concerns that we've had all along: The really fuzzy line between the presidency and the Trumps' companies," Bookbinder said. "Donald Trump Jr. sort of straddles that line all the time."
According to the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. did not have any part in arranging a meeting “with anyone at the White House or any other government agency.”
But whether there was a game of influence played or not, whatever Beach tried to do ended up not working, as his suggestion was essentially ignored by the administration. Instead, the U.S. imposed extra sanctions on Venezuelan officials.
Still, at the time of the meeting, NSC lawyers raised ethical concerns regarding the potential ramifications, the unnamed source told reporters. These red flags should have been addressed, but they weren’t, making us all wonder whether the Trump administration isn’t concerned about at least pretending they are “draining the swamp,” as the president once promised he would do.