Washington: Donald Trump Jr is visiting India as a private citizen and not in an official capacity, the State Department has said, amidst ethical concerns raised by some groups about the high-profile trip of the eldest son of US President Donald Trump.
Trump Jr, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, is currently on a week-long visit to India to sell a range of ultra-luxury properties, including one in Gurgaon and another in Kolkata.
“We certainly are aware that Mr Trump is in the region, that he’s there as a private citizen, not as an official US government in any capacity,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters yesterday at her daily news conference when asked about Trump’s son’s India visit.
Nauert said the US embassy is in touch with the Secret Service because he is provided Secret Service protection.
“Anytime we have an official or someone who would go over there who does have Secret Service protection, there is some amount of coordination and conversation. But overall, the US embassy does not have any kind of role in that visit,” she said.
“He is there as a private citizen and I don’t have any comment beyond that regarding his trip,” she said.
Trump Jr, 40, is also scheduled to speak on “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation,” at the Economic Times Global Business Summit this week in New Delhi.
India is the Trump Organization’s biggest overseas market, earning the family up to $3 million in royalties in 2016, the Voice of America reported.
Trump Jr. is the second child of the US president to visit India. Ivanka Trump visited in November, in her capacity as a member of Trump administration, to address a global entrepreneurship summit in Hyderabad in November.
But critics say the Trump family is cashing in on the president’s name.
Citizens for Ethics, a government ethics and accountability watchdog organisation alleged that the president’s son’s visit to India was a violation of ethics.
“By offering a meeting with Donald Trump Jr to buyers, Trump’s business is essentially auctioning off access to the US president’s son. What’s to stop Don Jr from talking about a policy issue with a buyer and then bringing it up with his father?” it said in a tweet.
“A Secret Service detail is accompanying Donald Trump Jr. to India where he is promoting Trump real estate. Which means his trip to make a profit for the Trump Organization is costing taxpayers money,” it said.
“Donald Trump Jr. is going to India to sell real estate for his family business. Why is he giving a speech on foreign policy?” it asked.