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A Look At The Ethical Conflicts Trump's Children Have Faced


President Trump's decision to hold the next G7 summit at his private golf resort has once again put a spotlight on the Trump Organization. That business empire is currently run by the president's sons. And the Trump Organization's involvement in hosting the G7 summit comes just as President Trump continues to attack Joe Biden for his son's work overseas. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe has more on the challenges of presidential progeny and their business dealings.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: President Trump is accusing former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter of corrupt conduct in Ukraine and China during Biden's time in office. There's no evidence to back up most of Trump's claims. Still, Trump insists his family will be held to a different standard. Here he is at a campaign rally in Louisiana last week.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Can you imagine if Don Jr. or if Eric Trump or if our beautiful Ivanka - she works so hard...


TRUMP: ...Can you imagine if they walked out with $1 1/2 billion? They wouldn't be saying totally unsubstantiated.

RASCOE: Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump run the company that continues to be owned by the president. And that's the difference between the Trumps and Hunter Biden, who received a lucrative position with the Ukrainian gas company while Biden was VP, says Kathleen Clark. She's a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

KATHLEEN CLARK: It's the family business (laughter). It's not just, you know, adult children or siblings going off on their own and trying to take advantage and enrich themselves.

RASCOE: Clark says she was troubled that Hunter Biden took work with a Ukrainian company even as his father was point person on Ukraine. Still, there's no evidence that Hunter Biden's ties affected U.S. policy. But Clark says the Trumps have been particularly blatant when it comes to mixing business and politics. Trump's sons pledged not to enter into any new deals overseas and to donate any profits made from foreign governments. They also said they would not talk to their father about company business.

However, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington points to a sales trip Donald Trump Jr. took to India last year. They say condo buyers were offered special access to the president's son. Noah Bookbinder is the group's executive director.

NOAH BOOKBINDER: If they are using the presidency to make more money than they would if they didn't use it in that way, that's a problem.

RASCOE: CREW is one of several organizations suing President Trump, arguing his decision to not divest from his businesses violates the Constitution. Trump's sons dismiss those arguments. Don Jr. was on Fox News earlier this week.


DONALD TRUMP JR: We were international businesspeople before politics, and we gave up doing all new deals going forward. We didn't become magically international businesspeople because of our political position.

RASCOE: The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment. Trump's sons are not the only Trump children who have raised ethics concerns. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, work in the White House, and their own business dealings have been closely scrutinized. For Clark, the constitutional questions and the issues of nepotism and self-dealing are really complicated when it comes to the Trump children.

CLARK: It's, not surprisingly, one huge mess.

RASCOE: While there's no sign of Trump relenting, Clark hopes that future presidents will come up with broad and detailed disclosure requirements for their family members.

Ayesha Rascoe, NPR News, the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHROMONICCI'S "THOUGHTS.") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.