Clinton camp seizes on Newsweek report Republican nominee spent $68,000 on investigation of business opportunities, which US law made illegal
The Clinton campaign on Thursday attacked Donald Trump over reports of an historic violation of the Cuba embargo, hours after Newsweek alleged that the Republican nominee spent at least $68,000 in the island dictatorship in 1998, while investigating potential business opportunities.
Citing interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings, Newsweek reported that in 1998 a company controlled by Trump secretly conducted business in communist Cuba during Fidel Castros presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal.
The expenditure, Newsweek said, was indirect, involving the payment of expenses incurred on a visit by consultants from a US firm.
On Thursday, Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser to the Clinton campaign, said in a statement: Trumps business with Cuba appears to have broken the law, flouted US foreign policy and is in complete contradiction to Trumps own repeated, public statements that he had been offered opportunities to invest in Cuba but passed them up.
This latest report shows once again that Trump will always put his own business interest ahead of the national interest and has no trouble lying about it.
At the time of the expenditure in question, the spending of any US corporate money in Cuba was illegal without the explicit approval of the federal government.
The Trump campaign did not immediately issue a statement, but in a television interview with The View, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway seemed to acknowledge that Trump had indeed spent money in Cuba.
It starts out with a screaming headline, as it usually does, that he did business in Cuba, she said. And it turns out that he decided not to invest there. They paid money, as I understand, in 1998.
I know were not supposed to talk about years ago when it comes to the Clintons, but with Trump there is no statute of limitations.
Trump, who was due to stage a campaign rally in Bedford, New Hampshire, on Thursday, has taken contradictory positions on US policy towards Cuba.
In 1999, when first exploring a presidential campaign as a third-party candidate, he took a hard line.
In a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined America Needs a President Like Me, he wrote: I would also immediately reverse the move to normalize relations with the most abnormal political figure in our hemisphere: Fidel Castro.
We have pushed him to the precipice with our embargo, helped of course by the withdrawal of Soviet backing.
Now comes a movement, backed by state department bureaucrats, to rescue Mr Castro with US dollars. The striped-pants set wont like hearing this, but normalization is pure lunacy.
Moves towards normalisation of relations were eventually announced in December 2014, by the Obama administration. Nine months later, the US embassy in Havana was formally reopened by secretary of state John Kerry. Barack Obama visited the country in March this year.
The concept of opening with Cuba 50 years is enough the concept of opening with Cuba is fine. I think we should have made a stronger deal.
In recent days, the Republican nominee has taken a far harder line. At an event in Miami on 16 September, he pledged: All the concessions that Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands.
Not my demands. Our demands.
Cuba policy has long been something of a political third rail, thanks to the presence in Florida, a key swing state, of a strong Cuban-American migr community. Most presidential campaigns have therefore pursued a hard line towards the government of Fidel and Ral Castro.
- The introduction, headline and standfirst to this piece were altered on 29 September 2016, to clarify that Newsweek rather than the Clinton campaign was the source of a report that a company controlled by Donald Trump broke the Cuba embargo in 1998.