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Trump on employees scouting deals in Cuba: 'They had some meetings'


Pressed on his business dealings in Cuba, Donald Trump acknowledged in a Miami interview Sunday that several of his top executives traveled to the island for company purposes.

"They had some meetings," Trump told Jim DeFede, an investigative reporter with Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported this summer that Trump's team went to Cuba to explore potential sites for golf courses.

Trump danced around questions regarding that story, and about a Newsweek report that his company violated the Cuban trade embargo in 1998. Trump is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Miami's Bay of Pigs invasion veterans, in a continued effort to try to shore up support among Cuban-American Republicans.

Here's a transcript of the DeFede interview:

DEFEDE: Let’s talk Cuba for a second. You’ve recently come out with a much harder line, saying that you would repeal some of PresidentObama’s executive orders. I just want to be specific. Would you break off diplomatic relations with Cuba?

TRUMP: Look, Cuba has to treat us fairly and it has to treat the people of Cuba fairly and the people living here that were from Cuba or their families were from Cuba. The agreement President Obama signed is a very weak agreement. We get nothing. The people of Cuba get nothing and I would do whatever is necessary to get a good agreement. An agreement is fine. It has to be a strong, good agreement that’s good for the Cuban people.

DEFEDE: I just want to press, would you break off diplomatic relations though on Day One?

TRUMP: I would do whatever you have to do to get a strong agreement. And people want an agreement, I like the idea of an agreement, but it has to be a real agreement. So if you call that for negotiation purposes, whatever you have to do to make a great deal for the people of Cuba. So important.

DEFEDE: Would you appoint an ambassador to Cuba in the meantime?

TRUMP: I would wait, I would wait until we have the agreement. I would want to get a very powerful agreement. Look, the people of Cuba have been waiting for a long time. The people here formerly of Cuba have been waiting a long time. We can wait a little bit longer and get the kind of agreement we want.

DEFEDE: Since I last talked to you, there have been two stories that have come out with regard to Cuba related to your business dealings. One was in Newsweek and one was in Bloomberg. The Newsweek story suggested that you had, through a consulting firm, sent emissaries to Cuba about casino gambling in 1998. And then the Bloomberg story talked about a number of people in 2012 – 2013 going to Cuba to explore possible golf operations there. Did you, in fact, send those people?

TRUMP: Well, I can say that Cuba very much wants to see us there, I have heard, I don’t know, I didn’t speak to anybody, but I can tell you that, Cuba, everybody wants us to go, whether it’s countries or people themselves and we will maybe at the right time look at Cuba. But I wouldn’t want to do anything in Cuba until we have a very powerful agreement.

DEFEDE: I just want to be clear, because the Bloomberg story said that Edward Russo, Jason Greenblatt, your chief legal officer Ron Lieberman, and another executive, Larry Glick, have all travelled to Cuba on your behalf. Did they, in fact, go?

TRUMP: I don’t know exactly where they were. I can tell you that Cubawants to, you know, really negotiate with us. They’ve said, “We want to negotiate.” They want to make some kind of a deal. I’ve said I don’t want to make any deals unless we know we have a deal with Cuba, I think it’s appropriate.

DEFEDE: But you think they did, in fact, go to Cuba?

TRUMP: Well, I know that Cuba wants us to go there. I’m not interested in going.

DEFEDE: No, I meant as emissaries. Did those individuals travel there to have those discussions?

TRUMP: I would have to find out. I know they had some meetings, but I would have to find out.