What motivates Trump to shelter Halkbank and protect Erdoğan?

The Trump Organization received $14 million in royalty fees for use of Trump’s name on the Trump Towers in Istanbul. Azerbaijani oligarchs also paid millions to the Trump organization for a beauty pageant in Baku. A recent investigation by MSNBC concluded that the Trump Organization has ownership positions in 119 Turkish companies. 

Trump’s efforts to dissuade the Justice Department from prosecuting the state-owned HalkBank are unprecedented. Prosecutors have already determined that HalkBank helped evade US sanctions on Iran. 

What motivates Trump to shelter HalkBank? 

The Trump Organization owes $431 million, which Trump personally guaranteed. When Trump's taxes are finally released, don't be surprised to learn that HalkBank or Turkish businessmen close to Erdogan financed the Trump Organization. 

Trump's conflict of interest has real ramifications for US national security. He invited Turkish armed forces and their jihadist proxies into Northern Syria where they committed heinous crimes against Kurds, Armenians and Syriac Christians. He turns a blind eye as Turkish-backed Islamists slaughtered ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. He's also silent as Turkish war ships challenge Greece, Cyprus and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Trump puts his personal interest above US national interests when it comes to US-Turkey relations. Investigators should determine if Trump's actions are unethical – or criminal.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.