|ME||May 17, 2019|
President Trump’s 2018 revenue from his D.C. hotel was almost $41 million
President Trump reported $40,842,294 in revenue from the Trump Hotel D.C. in 2018 in his financial disclosures, which the Office of Government Ethics released yesterday.
That figure is up 1 percent compared to what he reported in 2017. It’s “a stunning increase, given that 2017 was the year of Trump’s inauguration,” according to David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post.
As the internet noticed, Trump largely reported revenue as opposed to profit (that is, we don’t know what his expenses were).
Trump also valued his ownership of the hotel at more than $50 million.
Some other observations:
“Trump brought in about $352 million last year from 30 companies that own or manage those properties, down from nearly $387 million in 2017” – Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein for The Daily Beast
“Trump National Doral Miami resort, the flagship property and biggest moneymaker for the Trump Organization, made $75 million—down from almost $116 million in 2016.” – Axios
“Mar-a-Lago netted him around $22.6 million in 2018—a multi-million dollar decrease from 2017 ($25.1 million).” – Grace Hakery of OpenSecrets DC
“One ‘inactive’ hotel deal through T Express LLC clearly started after he entered office, in 2017” – David Kravitz of ProPublica
“Trump, who has SAID, he has no day-to-day control of his companies, somehow managed to create a new LLC which, perhaps managed by his sons, borrowed $$ for him, to expand his real estate empire. The house is now offered for rent by Trump Org at $81k/month.” – Russ Choma of Mother Jones
“The most eye catching figure is Trump’s cumulative valuation of his Scottish businesses—in excess of $100m—which falls somewhere on the scale between optimistic and deluded.” – Martyn McLaughlin of The Scotsman
“Trump borrowed $11.2 million last year. It’s unprecedented for a president to be borrowing big amounts of money while in office. (And why did he need to borrow?)” – David Corn of Mother Jones
TrumpStore.com’s revenue increased by 500 percent compared to 2017 – David Kravitz of ProPublica
“Trump’s financial disclosure filing out today is highly limited. It doesn’t show profits / losses and ranges are given for other things. It would be great to be able to compare it with actual tax return information.” – Susanne Craig of The New York Times
“We have a lot of reason to disbelieve self-reported financials of Trump Org businesses.” – @nycsouthpaw
“🤷♂️” – former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Water Shaub, when asked how trustworthy he thought Trump’s disclosures might be
Mnuchin won’t comply with House subpoena for Trump’s tax returns
Late this afternoon, surprising no one, Treasury Sec. (and former Trump Hotel D.C. resident) Steve Mnuchin refused to comply with a subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D–MA).
New U.S. military recruits honored at Trump National D.C.
Last night the commander-in-chief’s Sterling, Virginia golf course hosted a gala for new U.S. military recruits, according to an invite shared on Instagram. Individuals and businesses reportedly paid for the event.
U.S. Army Major General Scott Dingle addressed these new enlistees.
As 1100 Pennsylvania previously reported, in February 2019 the Army’s 3rd U.S. infantry regiment’s fourth battalion held its annual ball at the Trump Hotel D.C. A spokesperson said at the time that the troops relied on fundraisers and their own money to party at the commander-in-chief’s hotel. And in April a benefit for Navy SEALS was held at Mar-a-Lago.
Support 1100 Pennsylvania: never-redacted reporting on President Trump’s D.C. hotel
We now know most of what’s in the Mueller report. It’s time to focus on what happens inside the Trump Hotel D.C. and the president’s other businesses. Original, in-depth reporting, of course, takes time. But it’s making an impact—and you can help. If you’re not an 1100 Pennsylvania member, please become one. Memberships are this newsletter’s sole source of revenue. Select the red “Subscribe now” button and become a member by paying just $5 a month or $50 a year. Thank you.
Report: Trump’s Irish visit in doubt because Taoiseach doesn’t want to visit a Trump property
From “Donald Trump trip to Ireland in doubt amid venue disagreement” by Suzanne Lynch for The Irish Times:
The Trump administration had been considering a visit to Ireland between the president’s trips to Britain and France in June. But disagreement has emerged over protocol issues.
While the Taoiseach’s preference is to meet Mr. Trump in Co Clare, Irish officials are reluctant to meet the U.S. president in his golf course in Doonbeg. Instead, the government has pressed for a meeting in another location, preferably Dromoland Castle, located 50km away.
One White House source told The Irish Times on Thursday that the president was now favouring a visit to Scotland rather than Ireland during his European trip.
Trump already has visited one of his two Scottish golf courses as president; he’s yet to play at his club in Ireland during that time.
‘Commentary’ columnist had thoughts on this newsletter
In Commentary’s “The Trump Hotel: A safe space” (subscription required, free trial available), Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti dedicated a few paragraphs to 1100 Pennsylvania.
First off, he wrote nice things about this publication’s tracking of the court cases, congressional investigations, and groups booking the hotel. Thanks!
Continetti had a couple of pieces of criticism that, while not without some useful feedback, are off-base. For starters:
Sometimes, though, Everson fails to distinguish between the real and pressing questions surrounding the hotel and the subjective attitudes of liberals who condescend to it. He pores over Facebook and Instagram posts of hotel patrons, including dozens of snapshots they take in the atrium with Trump allies like Rudy Giuliani. Who cares if a random dude wanted a selfie with America’s Mayor?
When the president profits from a lot of random dudes showing up at his hotel in the hopes of mingling with GOP dignitaries and scoring a selfie, we all should care. As 1100 Pennsylvania documents (as did a Twitter thread before the newsletter launched), selfies with Trump World notables aren’t one-offs, they’re a regular perk—and draw—for Trump Hotel D.C. patrons. Other D.C. hotels, restaurants, and bars don’t—and can’t—match that offering (sorry Cafe Milano). This issue is being litigated in Cork wine bar’s unfair competition lawsuit. And photos that show foreign and state government officials are relevant to the emoluments suits too. These questions are real and pressing.
That being said, this newsletter probably should contain an explanation why the notable-sightings section exists; starting next week it will.
On to Continetti’s next part:
Everson hardly could contain his sneer when an attendee at the Good Friday Prayer Breakfast at the hotel posted photos of her event with the caption, “God is opening up doors!!!” When a Washington Post correspondent sarcastically tweets from the Benjamin Bar that she is “evaluating my life choices,” must the public be informed? This isn’t reporting. It’s voyeurism.
Reporting and voyeurism, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive and, yes, this newsletter offers a touch of the latter (in the most nonsexual use of the word).
One of the struggles of producing a daily-ish newsletter on a microbeat is how much context to provide. For example, when there’s an update in the General Service Administration’s decision not to relocate the FBI’s headquarters, do readers need a full explanation every time why it’s relevant to a publication focused on the Trump Hotel D.C.? In general, 1100 Pennsylvania operates on the assumption that if you’re subscribing, you’re familiar with the major issues.
To wit, the standalone “God is opening up doors!!!” Many evangelicals believe god put Trump in power. It’s worth investigating if their belief in Trump’s divine anointment is leading them to the spend earthly cash at his D.C. hotel. It sure seems that way: the Museum of the Bible, Liberty University, evangelical leaders, and other religious groups regularly hold events there. And it’s a rare day not to see love of Jesus mentioned in the Instagram profile of someone who’s shared a smiling selfie from the lobby. The hotel’s managing director has said, “We have a religious niche.”
So when a Trump Hotel D.C. patron writes “God is opening up doors!!!,” it’s in that context—and it’s worth pointing out those doors open up to the U.S. president’s for-profit business. That being said, yes, the photo in question possibly could have used a brief explanation as to why it’s worth highlighting. (Although sadly in a post-Gawker world, the bar for sneering seems to have been lowered to include paraphrasing a person’s own quote.)
The liberal response to the Trump hotel is another reminder of how difficult it is to disentangle legitimate complaints about the president from aesthetic disapproval of him and his supporters.
If you can’t discern legit concerns about the U.S. president still owning his businesses from ad hominem digs at him and his backers, that’s on you.
As for your correspondent’s role in “aesthetic disapproval,” near the beginning of his piece, Continetti noted, “Condé Nast Traveler praised its service and amenities.” That Traveler article also commended the hotel’s design, dining, and LEED silver status.
I had entered a Republican safe space. The atmosphere was convivial, peaceful, and civil. And as I tucked in my napkin, and enjoyed tuna tartar and Dover sole, I had the pleasant, fleeting sensation that all of this was normal.
The U.S. president profiting off of a safe space for his partisans should never be considered normal. (Good call with the tartare though, it’s delicious.)
National Security Advisor John Bolton attended a function at his boss’s hotel, just as reports surfaced that Trump’s frustrated with Bolton’s perceived importance. Also in attendance at this event, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and a losing candidate in the 2018 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Montana, Troy Downing.
Linda McMahon, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration and current chair of the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, reportedly held court in her former boss’s lobby.
For Commentary’s “The Trump Hotel: A safe space” (subscription required, free trial available), Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti dined at the hotel reported seeing the following people
Sen. Tom Cotton (R–AR)
Sen. Ben Sasse (R–NE)
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk
Blaze TV’s Eric Bolling
Political consultant, Fox News pundit, and Trump campaign advisory board member Harlan Hill
Also, Continetti reported that friends told him the Republican National Committee and Club for Growth were meeting in the back.
The director of cyber security at U.S. Navy’s program executive office, unmanned and small combatants, Weina Dorsky, raved about sushi in the commander-in-chief’s hotel.
Michael Bluemling Jr. captioned a photo from Mar-a-Lago by sharing that he’s considering a run for Congress as a Republican.
This Trump Store customer showed off her new mug that depicts the White House.
PGA Tour Champions golfer Len Mattiace played at Trump Philadelphia.
Other Trump Organization news
“A federal judge has confirmed for the first time that Felix Sater, a former Donald Trump business associate who drove Trump Tower Moscow negotiations during the 2016 election, helped the U.S. government track down Osama bin Laden.” By Natasha Bertrand for Politico.
You can book a Trump chateau via VRBO reported David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post:
Eric Trump is accompanying 32 members of Trump Charlotte to Scotland on a tour of other Trump golf properties.
Hotel managing director Mickael Damelincourt plugged the Ivanka Trump suite on LinkedIn, but left out the name. Being the only hotel suite named after a current White House staffer though, it is unique.
House investigations, current status (latest change, May 17, 2019)
Financial Services—Sent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank on Jan. 24. On March 1, chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D–CA) said the bank is cooperating with her committee and that staffers from the panel have met with bank employees in New York. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Deutsche Bank reportedly has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas.
Foreign Affairs—Chair Rep. Elliot Engel (D–NY) “plans to investigate whether President Donald Trump’s businesses are driving foreign policy decisions, including whether Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution in the process” per CNN on Jan. 23.
Judiciary—On March 4, the committee “served document requests to 81 agencies, entities, and individuals believed to have information relevant to the investigation,” according to a statement by the panel. Among the individuals the committee requested documents from are Trump Organization EVP Donald Trump Jr.; EVP Eric Trump; EVP and COO Michael Calamari; CFO Alan Weisselberg; EVP and chief legal officer Alan Garten; Trump tax attorney Sherri Dillon; longtime Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff; former Trump advisor Felix Sater; former Trump attorney Michael Cohen; and Trump associate and inaugural chair, Tom Barrack. The committee received “tens of thousands” of documents by the March 18 deadline the letters set for responses, according to its chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–NY). Among the respondents: Barrack, Steve Bannon, and the National Rifle Association. But more than half of the targets had not replied by April 3, two weeks after the deadline. On that day, the committee authorized subpoenas for former White House aides Bannon, Ann Donaldson, Hope Hicks, Donald McGahn, and Reince Priebus, per Politico. Attorneys for the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump did not respond to Politico’s inquires if their clients planned to reply. The committee is considering making additional document requests, including to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. The committee interviewed Felix Sater on March 21.
Intelligence—On Feb. 6, chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D–CA) issued a statement that said his committee would investigate links or coordination between the Russian government/related foreign actors and individuals associated with Trump’s businesses, as well as if foreign actors sought to compromise or hold leverage over Trump’s businesses. On Feb. 10, Schiff said the committee would investigate Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, a major lender to the Trump Organization. Earlier, on Jan. 24, the committee sent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank. On Feb. 28, an aide said the panel expects to interview Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. During testimony on March 6, Michael Cohen turned over documents that allegedly show how Trump’s then-personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, edited Cohen’s statement regarding Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen later read this revised statement before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. In closed-door testimony in March, Cohen claimed the president submitted a false insurance claim regarding a fresco in Trump Tower. Felix Sater, who was connected to the Trump Moscow project, was scheduled to testify in an open hearing on March 27, but that has been postponed. Schiff hired a veteran prosecutor experienced with combating Russian organized crime to lead this investigation. The committee is also seeking to interview Trump inauguration organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Schiff said Deutsche Bank has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas.
Oversight and Reform—Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings’s (D–MD) staff “has already sent out 51 letters to government officials, the White House, and the Trump Organization asking for documents related to investigations that the committee may launch,” on Jan. 13. In a Feb. 15 letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings said the committee received documents showing White House attorney Stefan Passantino and long-time Trump personal attorney Sheri Dillon provided “false information” to the Office of Government Ethics regarding Michael Cohen’s “hush-money payments.” As a result, Cummings wants to depose Passantino and Dillon; the White House, however, rejected Cummings’ request to interview Passantino. And on Feb. 27, Cohen testified to the committee about those payments and other Trump Organization business practices, which could lead to the committee requesting the president’s tax returns and allegations of possible insurance fraud. The next day, House Democrats signaled they would seek testimony from Trump Organization officials whom Cohen alleged were implicated, including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and CFO Allen Weisselberg. On March 6, Cummings requested information from the GSA about its reversal of an earlier decision to relocate FBI headquarters, which is located across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. The committee also has requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. And on April 12, Cummings notified committee members that he plans to subpoena Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for his financial statements. That same day Cummings also wrote to the GSA requesting all monthly reports from the Trump Hotel D.C., information about any liens on the hotel, a slew of correspondence between the Trump Org and GSA, and legal opinions regarding the Trump Org’s compliance with the lease. President Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Hotel D.C. sued Cummings and Mazars USA on April 22 in an attempt to prevent the release of Trump’s financial records. Trump’s suit cites an 1880 Supreme Court decision—that was overturned in 1927. Cummings postponed the subpoenas’ deadline while the courts address the president’s suit. At a May 14 hearing, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta sounded sympathetic to the committee and said he expects to issue a ruling in a few days.
Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management—Transportation committee chair Rep. Peter DeFazio (D–OR) and subcommittee chair Dina Titus (D–NV) sent a letter to GSA administrator Emily Murphy on Jan. 22 asking for all communication between the GSA and members of the Trump family dating back to 2015, an explanation of how the D.C. hotel calculates its profits, profit statements since the hotel opened, any guidance from the White House regarding the lease, and whether or not Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are recused from participating in decisions regarding the property. GSA has “sent a partial response and the subcommittee is reviewing it,” according to a senior House staffer familiar with the situation. When hearings begin, it is likely that Murphy will be the first person called to testify, according to a person familiar with the subcommittee’s plans. Titus is hiring additional staffers to handle the investigation. On March 6, Titus requested information from the GSA about its reversal of an earlier decision to relocate the FBI headquarters, which is located across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. NPR reported on March 15 that, “Democrats on the committee want to know, among other things, whether there was any political pressure exerted on the GSA by the Trump White House, presidential campaign or transition team. They also want to know how the Trump Hotel calculates its profits, segregates incoming money from foreign governments, and what the Trump Organization owes the GSA on a monthly or annual basis.’”
UPDATED Ways and Means—On April 3, chairman Richard Neal (D–MA) requested six years of Trump’s personal tax returns, as well as the returns for eight of his businesses (including that of the trust that holds the president’s ownership stake in the D.C. hotel). After the IRS missed Neal’s first deadline, he extended it until 5 p.m. on April 22. The IRS missed that deadline too and Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin said he’d make a decision whether or not to release the returns by May 6. He declined to do so. Neal indicated he’ll take the issue to the federal courts. On May 10 the committee subpoenaed Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig, giving them a May 17 deadline to turn over Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin again declined to comply. Also, the subcommittee on Oversight held its first hearing on “legislative proposals and tax law related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns” on Feb. 7. “We will ask the question: Does the public have a need to know that a person seeking the highest office in our country obeys tax law?” said chair Rep. John Lewis (D–GA). Experts in tax law testified.
President Trump chose not to divest; Americans need to know who’s paying him
Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump did not divest his businesses upon becoming U.S. president. Think that may be a problem? Become an 1100 Pennsylvania member, and support reporting on who’s spending money at the president’s businesses—and what they may be getting in return. Memberships are this newsletter’s sole source of revenue. Select the red “Subscribe now” button and become a member by paying just $5 a month or $50 a year. Thank you.
Legal cases, current status (latest change, May 16, 2019)
Official capacity—On Dec. 20, 2018, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it would hear the president’s appeal of district court rulings that allowed the case to proceed to discovery, and the appellate court halted discovery in the case. Discovery had started Dec. 3 and was scheduled to run through Aug. 2, 2019, with the AGs having subpoenaed the Trump Organization, including its Scottish golf courses; the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Treasury and the GSA; and the state of Maine. Oral arguments on the appeal occurred on March 19; by all accounts the three-judge panel (all Republican appointees, including one who was a selection of President Trump’s) were skeptical of the AGs’ case. D.C. AG Karl Racine pledged to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Individual capacity—On Dec. 14, Trump’s personal attorneys appealed the denial of their motion to dismiss the case, also to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 19, the AGs replied to Trump’s motion for a stay pending that appeal by voluntarily dismissing the claims against Trump in his “individual capacity to allow the claims against President Trump in his official capacity to move forward expeditiously.” (The AGs only brought suit against Trump in his individual capacity after the judge suggested they do so.) Trump’s personal attorneys, on Dec. 21, opposed the motion to dismiss at the district level, saying the appeals court now has jurisdiction and accusing the AGs of “gamesmanship.”
Democratic senators and representatives’ emoluments lawsuit—On Sept. 28, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that the legislators have standing to sue. Trump’s Justice Department attorneys filed an interlocutory appeal on Oct. 22. On Jan. 30, 2019, the plaintiffs’ filed a notice of supplemental authority, notifying the court of the GSA inspector general’s report that criticized GSA for failing to consider if the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease was in compliance with the Constitution after Trump became president. Two days later, the president’s attorneys argued that the IG’s conclusion was not inconsistent with Trump’s argument, but that the judge should ignore that report anyway because the IG has no expertise in interpreting or applying the foreign emoluments clause. On April 30, Sullivan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit. While the president’s attorneys have a supplemental brief due on May 28, on May 14 they filed a motion to stay the proceedings while they appeal Sullivan’s decision.
CREW et. al’s emoluments lawsuit—In February 2018, CREW appealed its suit being dismissed for lack of standing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on that motion were held on Oct. 30.
Cork’s unfair competition lawsuit—Judge Richard J. Leon dismissed the case on Nov. 26, 2018, writing “Cork has failed to state a claim for unfair competition under D.C. law.” On Dec. 10, Cork’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal and on Jan. 10, 2019 they submitted a statement of issues to be raised. Cork filed its first appellant brief on May 15, arguing “the District Court failed to recognize the evolving nature of the common law of unfair competition in the District of Columbia and erroneously treated the prior cases as if they were a series of statutes that Appellant had to satisfy to state a claim
Employees’ class-action suit alleging racial discrimination—Two of the three plaintiffs did not appear at a status hearing on Jan. 25, 2019; their cases were moved to arbitration. Via email, their attorney, A.J. Dhali, said his clients did not appear at the hearing because their case already had been moved to arbitration last year. The next status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.
Health inspections, current status (latest change, Aug. 10, 2018)
❌Hotel: five violations on May 7, 2018; two were corrected on site
❌BLT Prime and Benjamin Bar: nine violations on Aug. 10, 2018
❌Sushi Nakazawa: two violations on Aug. 10, 2018
✔️Banquet kitchen: no violations on Aug. 10, 2018
❌Pastry kitchen: two violations on Aug. 10, 2018
✔️Gift shop: no violations on May 7, 2018
❌Employee kitchen and in-room dining: five violations on Aug. 10, 2018; two were corrected on site
Is the Trump Organization selling merchandise that depicts the White House? (latest change, March 21, 2019)
One thing that (probably) has nothing to do with Trump’s businesses
Thanks for reading. If you like what you saw, tell someone—and support this work by becoming a member. If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, subscribe for yourself at zacheverson.substack.com. Questions? Read our FAQ/manifesto. Tips or feedback? Contact me, Zach Everson, securely via email at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com or on Signal at 202.804.2744.