Following Trump’s disastrous call with the President of Taiwan, Trump’s team is in full-on damage control mode. The chat was staggeringly short-sighted, an unprecedented break with diplomatic tradition and was swiftly condemned by China. It’s unclear as of yet just what exactly the fallout will be. But worse than the effects was the cause.
Trump claims he harmlessly picked up a phone call and wound up talking to the President of Taiwan. He was, in his version, merely too stupid to understand that this might have diplomatic implications. After all, he has been skipping intelligence briefings. It stands to reason he would be ignorant of this protocol.
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
(For what it’s worth, Trump’s saving grace may be the fact that China has absolutely no respect for him. In the statement of condemnation, the Chinese government made it clear that they believed Taiwan orchestrated this and played off the stupidity of Trump, a useful idiot, to further their agenda. “We believe it’s a petty action by the Taiwan side,” is how they more artfully phrased it.)
But there’s something else going on here: Just two weeks ago, Trump’s company decided it wanted to make a play for Taiwan’s property market. Long before “The Call,” Trump’s organization sent employees to Taiwan to scope out the situation.
The Shanghaiist wrote about it at the time:
A representative from the Trump Organization paid a visit to Taoyuan in September, expressing interest in the city’s Aerotropolis, a large-scale urban development project aimed at capitalizing on Taoyuan’s status as a transport hub for East Asia, Taiwan News reports.
So Trump’s call appears to have been motivated, at least in part, by his business interests. He was willing to set the stage for a global standoff with China over a few Trump-brand hotels in Taipei. The conflict of interests the experts warned us about? This story has all of it and then some.
First, Trump is probably lying about who called who. Sources in Taiwan say it was “Taiwan-friendly” Trump staffers (many of whom either are currently or were Trump organization employees) organized the call.
— Edward Wong (@comradewong) December 3, 2016
But it gets worse. As usual, Trump’s organization decided to lie about what happened. Shamelessly. Blatantly. Outrageously lie. They shot out a statement denying they ever went to Taiwan in an official capacity.
A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, Amanda Miller, said that the company had “no plans for expansion into Taiwan,” and that there had been no “authorized visits” to the country to push a Trump development project.
Miller might want to check Facebook before lying because the employee who went to Taiwan to expand the Trump brand, Anne-Marie Donoghue, openly bragged about it on social media in post on her personal page. She specifically stated that her visit to Taiwan was “work.”
Good job, Trump team. You can’t even lie well.
Featured image via Scott Olson/Getty Images