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STATEMENT: Why Doesn’t James Comer Care About Trump’s Foreign Debt?

Dec 5, 2022

For Immediate Release
Date: December 5, 2022

Washington D.C. – This weekend, a report by Forbes revealed that Donald Trump failed to disclose his company owed over $19 million to a South Korean conglomerate with close ties to North Korea while president. In response, Congressional Integrity Project Executive Director Kyle Herrig said the following:

“We’ve heard crickets from Congressional Republicans on the latest revelations of former President Trump’s business dealings. Trump seemingly worked to conceal the fact that he owed nearly $20 million to a foreign company while in office. James Comer should be planning on hauling the president, his family, and his accountant in front of the Oversight Committee, but he’ll remain silent as he follows Trump’s playbook and launches revenge-motivated investigations to further his own political power so MAGA Republicans can work on passing their extremist, unpopular agenda.”


  • The documents, compiled by the Trump Organization and obtained by the New York attorney general, show a previously unreported liability of $19.8 million listed as “L/P Daewoo.” The debt stems from an agreement Trump struck to share some of his licensing fees with Daewoo, a South Korean conglomerate that partnered with Trump on a project near the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
  • He seems to have acted with some urgency to wipe the liability off his balance sheet. From 2011 to 2016, the documents show that the balance stayed static at $19.8 million. Paperwork capturing Trump’s financial picture as of June 30, 2017, five months into his presidency, appears to show that the balance had dropped to $4.3 million, $15.5 million less than it had been a year earlier. Trump got rid of the debt altogether shortly after that. “Daewoo was bought out of its position on July 5, 2017,” the documents say, without specifying who exactly paid off the loan.
  • There’s little doubt that if the world had known about the debt while Trump was president, it would have sparked conflicts-of-interest concerns, perhaps heightened by Daewoo’s historical ties to North Korea. (In the mid-1990s, the firm was the only South Korean company permitted to operate a business inside the country.) 
  • Most people as rich as Trump would not be heavily influenced by a $20 million loan. Regardless, the fact that the former president managed to keep the debt secret for so long underscores how weak the government’s ethics safeguards are, how difficult they are to strengthen—and how easily Trump could barrel through them again as he runs for president again in 2024.