Menendez wants assurance State Dept. didn't play role in Trump Jr.'s India visit

Menendez wants assurance State Dept. didn't play role in Trump Jr.'s India visit
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPaul blocks Senate vote on House-passed Syria resolution House to vote on resolution condemning Trump's Syria pullback Rand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter MORE (D-N.J.) is asking Kenneth Juster, the U.S. ambassador to India, for confirmation that the State Department didn't play a role in Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Donald Trump Jr. hits back at critics over hypocrisy claims Kentucky governor's race tied: poll MORE's trip to India.

"I expect that the U.S. State Department, including U.S. Embassy Delhi will treat Mr. Trump no differently than it would any other American individual visiting on private business, and will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest," Menendez wrote in a letter to Juster.

"To that end, I ask that you confirm that the State Department, including the Embassy, is not providing any special assistance or support for this visit," he added. 

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The information requested by Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, includes whether personnel at the U.S. Embassy briefed Trump Jr. or provided any additional consultation for his visit.

Trump Jr., the eldest son of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE, is in India this week for a business trip to promote a Trump-branded luxury development outside of New Delhi. 

But he is also expected to deliver a speech this week focused on Indo-Pacific relations at a business summit attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Trump Jr. does not work for the U.S. government, and, along with his brother Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpDem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Donald Trump Jr. hits back at critics over hypocrisy claims The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions MORE, was put in charge of day-to-day operations at the Trump Organization when his father took office last year.

But the India trip raised concern among some ethics watchdogs that the Trump Organization, President Trump's for-profit company, is hawking access to the president's son abroad.

Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, denied Tuesday that the agency played any role in Trump Jr.'s visit to India, saying that he is traveling in his capacity as a private citizen. 

Nauert said that the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has been in touch with the U.S. Secret Service for the visit, but that the U.S. government has not coordinated with Trump Jr. on other aspects of his trip. Such communication between the embassy and the Secret Service are standard, she said.

"He is there as a private citizen and I don’t have any comment beyond that," Nauert said.