Ed Morrissey brought to my attention an article that claims that Donald Trump pressed Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri about a stalled building project,
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) November 21, 2016
According to a report in the Argentine paper La Nacion, when President Mauricio Macri called Trump to congratulate him on winning the election, Trump used the opportunity to urge him to clear the way for a stalled office building development.
Talking Points Memo translated the story, which included comments from well-respected local journalist Jorge Lanata.
“Macri called him. This still hasn’t emerged but Trump asked for them to authorize a building he’s constructing in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t just a geopolitical chat,” said Lanata.
Long-time readers of my blog remember that I have posted Lanata’s reports, especially on the Nisman assassination and on the Kirchner money trail.
Since Lanata’s allegation was made during last night’s TV show, I watched the full show on YouTube, here,
Lanata got a lot of mileage out of the story: during his opening monologue (see above), during the cartoon, and during his reporters’ panel. I’ll skip to the panel.
At 54 minutes into the video, Lanata said that his reporter Maxi Montenegro had heard the alleged Macri-Trump conversation. Montenegro, however, not only did not affirm either way, but talked about income tax reform, a totally unrelated subject.
At 1:03 into the video Romina Manguel described the upcoming Trump Tower US$150 million, 35-story office building, in Buenos Aires as “one of Trump’s most important investments”.
She stated that “a long time ago” a group of investors purchased a three-story parking garage in the Nueve de Julio avenue in downtown Buenos Aires. In 2007 those owners could not get a building permit, and YY Development Group, partners with Trump in a Punta Del Este, Uruguay, hotel, approached them with plans to build a Trump Tower at that site. (As you can see from the link, the Punta del Este building is residential, not a hotel.)
According to Manguel, the Buenos Aires Trump office building was granted the necessary permits early this year “before anyone thought Trump would be elected President,” and was scheduled to start construction in July next year, but following Trump’s win, the city legislature said the permits “may need renewing”.
Mangel and the other panelists clarified that in the US it is considered inappropriate for a President-elect to bring up the building approval subject, while it’s not in Argentina.
As much as I respect Lanata’s work, this story strikes me as based on hearsay.
First, there’s no actual evidence of what transpired during the actual conversation.
Second, the main source of the information conveyed to La Nación is Felipe Yaryura, a partner of YY Development Group (the other partner is Moisés Yellati, hence YY).
Yaryura claims to have been “at Trump’s bunker” at the NY Hilton during election night, and asserts that he’s the one who talked Donald Trump into running for POTUS “a little over a year ago.”
The Buenos Aires Trump office building appears to be one of the many licensing arrangements the Trump organization has made over the years.
So, to summarize:
1. Could the subject have come up during the Macri-Trump call?
Yes, it is possible. I just could not find solid evidence either way from the material I could locate as of the writing of this post.
2. Does Yaryura have much to gain by claiming the issue was brought up, and could he see it as a means of pressuring the city legislators into allowing the construction to go ahead as previously approved?
3, Should Trump place his assets into a blind trust and stay away from any of his businesses from now on until the end of his terms(s)?
4. Is Trump “cashing BIGLY in Argentina”?
Late Update 2:32 PM: Both President Macri and President-Elect Trump have denied that they discussed Trump’s building project during their post-election phone conversation.
Later Update: 2:48 PM: We received this statement from the Trump campaign: “Any reports alleging a discussion about personal business interests between President-elect Trump and President Macri are completely untrue. The Argentine President and his office have also refuted these baseless claims.”
Even Later Update 2:53 PM: And now a full statement from the Embassy of Argentina: “That issue was not part of the conversation between president Mauricio Macri and president-elect Donald Trump. The subject both leaders talked about was the institutional relationship, and they briefly mentioned the personal relationship they have had for years”.
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