One of Donald Trump’s companies is looking to sell off one of its crown jewel properties: the lease on the building currently housing the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The historic Old Post Office building, which is located near the White House, is still owned by the federal government. In 2013, it was leased to DJT Holdings, LLC, a holding company owned by Donald Trump. The lease was for 60 years and the Trump family converted it into the now infamous hotel, which opened in September 2016, right around the time our democracy started a steady descent into hell.
The Trump family has decided to sell the lease on the hotel, creating a glossy sales pitch for potential buyers. The sales pitch includes some head-scratching benefits. From CNN:
The hotel’s biggest selling point though, according to a copy of the brochure seen by CNN, is the one thing that the Trump family insists it didn’t take advantage of: profiting off foreign governments.“Tremendous upside potential exists for a new owner to fully capitalize on government related business upon rebranding of the asset,” reads the 46-page investor pitch.
Note the pitch says “fully capitalize” because Eric Trump insists they have turned away significant business. But, we know without question that foreign governments, corporations, and ass-kissing Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Attorney General Bill Barr have hosted and participated in a number of events at the hotel, fattening the bottom line for the Trump family.
So, why sell now?
Eric Trump offered CNN this explanation for why they are exploring a lease sale.
“People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel and therefore we may be willing to sell,” Eric Trump said. His statement did not list profit figures.
As CNN notes, there are still lawsuits underway which accuse Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which forbids all office holders, especially the president of the United States, from accepting gifts or other income from foreign countries while in office. What would the founders have thought about a Saudi lobbyist paying for 500 rooms at Trump’s D.C. hotel immediately after he won the
election Electoral College?
Wanting to find a way out of these lawsuits might be a reason to sell, but is there more going on here? Based on recent elections and voter registration data, Donald Trump, and Republicans in general, are in danger of losing in 2020. Surely that hotel will get a lot less popular if he loses and the MAGA types lose their appetite for overpriced rooms and steaks. But there have been other recent decisions by the Trump Organization that seem to indicate something bigger might be going on here.
Here are a few examples:
- In late October, observers noticed two ice rinks in New York City’s Central Park suddenly removed the Trump name from all branding, including the signage. Trump has often bragged about rescuing the rinks in the 1980s as they were financially struggling through renovations. But the Trump name has all but disappeared, nothing left but the fine print at the bottom of a welcome poster, which notes the rink is operated by the Trump Organization.
“It’s a complete rebranding,” said Geoffrey Croft, of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates. These rinks, which once shouted the president’s name, now barely mention it. “They’ve taken [the name] off everything. Off the uniforms, everything.”
- In early November, the Chicago Tribune reported a stunning 89% drop in profits at Trump’s Chicago hotel, which curiously enough had just hosted a (drumroll, please) fundraising luncheon for Donald Trump’s reelection, featuring the candidate himself. Even a $100,000 luncheon can’t save the hotel from this downward spiral?
Profits fell 89 percent from 2015 to 2018, from $16.7 million to $1.8 million, according to documents filed with Cook County, Illinois. Trump’s hotel struggled even as other Chicago hotels held steady or thrived.
The residential part of the the Trump Tower & Hotel is also struggling and they’ve reportedly slashed amenities and benefits for residents.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, which prides itself on indulgent luxury, is trying to keep up by cutting costs. In a presentation to investors, obtained by The Post, the company described leaving jobs open, cutting back on gifts for high rollers and children, and buying cheaper housekeeping supplies.
Despite Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and members of the military staying at Trump’s Irish hotel in Doonbeg, the property has never turned a profit.
Since then, Doonbeg has never reported turning a profit, losing more than $1 million every year from 2014 to 2017, according to Irish corporate records.
In 2018, the course’s revenue rose slightly — up about 2 percent from $14.2 million to $14.5 million, according to Trump’s latest U.S. financial disclosures.
- Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland has suffered even bigger losses. From an early October 2019 report at NBC News:
At Trump’s Turnberry resort on the Irish Sea, which has hosted several Open Championships, losses topped 10.8 million pounds ($13.2 million) last year, triple the loss from a year earlier, though much of that came from a hit in foreign exchange. Taking that out and one-time and non-cash costs, the club lost 210,000 pounds, or $257,000. Revenue jumped 20%.
Trump’s North Sea club overlooking a stretch of dramatic dunes also posted losses, though much lower – 1.1 million pounds, or $1.3 million.
All told, one news report after another seems to be painting an increasingly dismal financial outlook for the Trump Organization. No wonder Donald Trump, Jr. is looking to cash in with a book deal, and no wonder Donald Trump has reportedly talked to MGM Chairman and reality show kingmaker Mark Burnett about future projects. No wonder Ivanka Trump is still seeking corporate patents. If all goes well for the nation and the world, they’ll be back to the corporate grift and grind in a little more than a year. Seems like they are going to need to grab every penny they can to save their struggling empire.