Guo Wengui, a wealthy Chinese businessman, is living in exile in America, where he frequently agitates against the government of China. As a dissident, he’s become a political football; the Chinese government seeks to extradite him, while some in the American government hope to use him as leverage. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Guo’s contested status has brought two different conflicts of interest in the Trump White House clashing against each other.
On the one hand, the Chinese government has successfully lobbied Steve Wynn, a powerful GOP donor who does extensive business with the Chinese government in the gambling dens of Macau. Thanks to Wyn’s influence, the president was convinced that Guo was a “Chinese criminal” who deserved immediate deportation. “Where’s the letter that Steve brought?” Trump asked at a June meeting. “We need to get this criminal out of the country.” According to the Journal:
Aides assumed the letter, which was brought into the Oval Office, might reference a Chinese national in trouble with U.S. law enforcement, the people said.
The letter, in fact, was from the Chinese government, urging the U.S. to return Mr. Guo to China.
The document had been presented to Mr. Trump at a recent private dinner at the White House, the people said. It was hand-delivered to the president by Mr. Wynn, the Republican National Committee finance chairman, whose Macau casino empire cannot operate without a license from the Chinese territory.
What seems to have saved Guo from deportation was that he also had monied connections Trump could respect. As the Journal notes, “Some aides tried to shut the topic of conversation down, including by noting Mr. Guo is a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to the people familiar with the meeting.”
As this case proves, conflicts of interest in Trumpland can sometimes be so strong as to negate each other.