NEW DELHI — The U.S. president’s eldest son heaped praise on the Indian media Feb. 23, and accused American journalists of unfair criticism, as he neared the end of a whirlwind trip across India promoting Trump-brand luxury real estate.
Donald Trump Jr. said at an Indian business summit that life since his father’s election “has been difficult from a family standpoint,” but that he’d enjoyed the coverage he’d received during this trip.
“I love the Indian media. They are so mild and nice,” he said to audience laughter.
Trump has met with carefully selected Indian reporters since coming to India, with coverage often focusing on the promised luxury of the real estate developments he is selling.
Hours earlier, as criticism mounted that Trump Jr. was pushing an ethics boundary by making what seemed to be a foreign policy speech at the Global Business Summit, conference organizers hurriedly changed the speech’s title.
Very quickly, “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The Era of Cooperation” became “A Fireside Chat with Donald Trump Jr.”
With summer already approaching, it’s far too warm for cozy fires in New Delhi. But flames flickered on a video screen behind Trump as he was interviewed by a TV anchor with the channel co-hosting the business summit.
Critics had said that Trump Jr. airing his views on international relations, especially while sharing a platform with senior Indian government officials — including Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was problematic because of the implication that he has his father’s ear.
“I am concerned that Mr. Trump’s speech will send the mistaken message that he is speaking on behalf of the president, the administration or the United States government, not as a private individual, or that he is communicating official American policy,” Sen. Robert Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter earlier this week to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
Menendez said he expects that the U.S. State Department and the embassy will treat Trump Jr. like any other American on private business and “will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest.”
On Feb. 22, White House spokeswoman Lindsay E. Walters said the Trump administration “takes seriously its obligation to ensure that government resources are not used to provide a private benefit to anyone.”
“Donald Trump Jr. is a private individual and neither the State Department nor the White House has provided any support for this trip beyond coordinating with his Secret Service protection,” Walters said.
Trump Jr.’s India visit has already raised ethical concerns.
President Trump has pledged to stay away from any new foreign business deals during his term in office to avoid potential ethical conflicts. While the projects that Trump Jr. is promoting in India were inked before his father was elected, ethics experts have long seen the use of the Trump name to promote even existing business ventures as tricky territory.
Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have been running the Trump Organization, the family’s real estate business, during their father’s presidency.
Since Feb. 20, Trump Jr. has been traveling to four Indian cities to meet business partners and buyers in the luxury residential projects that bear his family’s name.
With five ventures under the Trump brand, India has the company’s largest number of projects outside the United States. The Trump Organization charges a licensing fee to its Indian partners who build the properties under the Trump name. A luxury complex is already open in the central city of Pune while the others are in varying stages of construction in Mumbai and Kolkata and two in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon.
Trump Jr. has dismissed claims that his family business is benefiting from his father’s presidency.
In related news, IANS reports from Mumbai: Donald Trump Jr. Feb. 22 cut a ribbon to mark the completion of construction of the city's first and only 78-storey ultra-luxury Trump Tower Mumbai, which will perhaps be the first in India to offer the facility of a 'private jet' service to its residents.
Built by Mumbai's Lodha Group, the Trump Tower Mumbai rises a majestic 800 feet above the city, adjacent to the Arabian Sea in the posh Worli area.
Trump Jr. also unveiled the newly fashioned show residence of the tower, designed by renowned interior designer Hirsch Bedner Associated, and got a glimpse of Mumbai from the 78th floor of the building.
The Trump Tower Mumbai has been constructed under the Lodha Group's Lodha Luxury Collection, marking an amalgamation of the exclusive lifestyles of the two partners, and will be the first in the country to offer a private jet service at the disposal of its residents.
However, details of the private jet service were not immediately available.
"We are proud to announce that Trump Tower Mumbai has reached its highest level of construction.
"Mumbai has emerged as one of the most preferable destinations for luxury real estate and we are honored to have a place within the city," said Trump Jr., as he recalled his association with the project from inception.
Located on a seven-acre property, The Park, the gold-hued Trump Tower Mumbai has 400 flats starting from Rs 9 crore for a 3-BHK and Rs 12 crore for a 4-BHK flat. Its construction started in 2014 and it will be ready for occupation in around a year or so.
Lodha Group managing director Abhishek Lodha said that the completion of the Trump Tower Mumbai "is a significant milestone for the luxury housing market and the overall real estate sector.”
"It is perhaps one of the very few international standard luxury developments which is coming alive and nearing completion," Lodha said at the unveiling attended by select customers and other invitees.
Apart from the private jet service, the Trump Tower Mumbai will offer other facilities like white-glove service, a spa, a private pool, a lounge, gymnasium, central air conditioning, penthouses on the upper floors, Trump Card privilege program, a seven-tier security system and other world-class amenities, designed by WOHA.
The 37-year-old Lodha Group is ranked the largest in India by sales, having clocked over Rs 8,200 crore last year from 7,200 units across various projects.
Besides Trump Tower Mumbai, it is developing LODHA Altamount, The World Towers, One Grosvenor Square, Palava and others in various Indian cities and London.