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Apr 10, 12:50 AM EDT

Trump's company asked Panama president to help in hotel spat

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AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco

PANAMA CITY (AP) -- Ethics experts are calling it a blatant mingling of President Donald Trump's business and government interests.

Trump's company appealed directly to Panama's president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries.

That appeal in a letter last month from Trump Organization lawyers to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful. An arbitrator declined to reinstate the Trump management team to the waterfront hotel in Panama City.

But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict that experts feared when Trump refused to divest from a sprawling empire that includes hotels, golf courses and other interests in more than 20 countries.

The Trump Organization's lawyers say the letter was not an attempt to pressure any government official.

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