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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

POTUS’ motives on Amazon, Qatar and China draw speculation

President Donald Trump in a Dec. 24, 2017,

President Donald Trump in a Dec. 24, 2017, photo. Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

Trust is key in politics, no matter what cynics say. Supporters of President Donald Trump say that he merits our trust to do what’s in the interests of the nation. Critics, of course, disagree.

Issues of motive keep arising for the White House.

Late last week it was reported that Trump personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate charged to Amazon and other firms to ship parcels.

Amazon happens to have been founded by Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, a newspaper that consistently criticizes the Trump administration — and reported the story.

None of that proves off the bat that Trump is right or wrong to pursue this policy.

Trump has ordered a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service for ways to raise revenues. Some citizens who aren’t even fans of the president do see Amazon as killing off retail business around the nation.

Do we choose to believe he is not motivated by self-interest, or that his self-interest coincides with the public interest?

That’s not a governance question but a political one, so far.

Last week it was reported that a company with ties to the Qatar government is close to assisting the Kushner companies’ troubled investment at 666 Fifth Avenue with millions of dollars in funding.

At the same time that this deal stands to benefit the family company of Trump son-in-law and putative foreign policy adviser Jared Kushner, the U.S. has backed a year-old Saudi Arabian-led embargo against Qatar.

Might the conduct of policy have anything to do with the personal interest of one of the players? The case for that hasn’t been made, at least so far.

Again, your level of skepticism becomes a matter of faith and speculation.

Trump suddenly decided that ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications firm, warranted help after U.S. sanctions helped shutter it, or at least that’s what he tweeted. No change has been carried out so far while trade talks proceed.

Are anti-Trumpers right to speculate that there’s a link to what happened two days earlier, when reports surfaced that the powers in Beijing would support a development project in Indonesia featuring Trump-branded properties?

Trump critics are asking the question without demonstrating a link between the two. Trump supporters are not. Again, it’s a matter of appearance and skepticism.

Much has been reported about the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. According to Trump’s 2016 financial disclosure statement, he owned a 76.7 percent stake in the limited-liability company that controls the hotel, as Time magazine reported.

The hotel, now headed by Donald Trump Jr., attracts political types. “Everyone hangs out there. Being in the Trump hotel’s lobby is a way to get people to know you,” one Trump campaign associate told Time.

People can choose to see it as a conflict-of-interest, or simply say, “Hey, what can you do? The Trumps are in the hotel business, and they are making profits great again.”

Maybe that too is just a matter of faith — as when the president says his campaign had “no collusion” with Russia and that those who suspect otherwise just cannot be trusted.

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