MORE THAN 200 companies, lobbying groups and foreign governments have given business to President Donald Trump’s resorts and hotels, while gaining benefits from him and his administration, an investigation by the New York Times found.
During his first two years in office, the Times reported, 60 customers paid Mr. Trump’s family owned business about $12 million, and almost all had their interests advanced by the president or the government.
While Mr. Trump promised as a presidential candidate in 2016 to “drain the swamp” of Washington influence peddling, the paper said, he has in fact turned his properties into the “Beltway’s new back rooms, where public and private business mix.”
The findings, published on Saturday, are the latest from the New York Times based in part on Mr. Trump’s tax data. The Times reported Sept. 27 that Mr. Trump has aggressively used tax deductions to offset income and paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.
Those patronizing the president’s properties like the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida or the Trump International Hotel in Washington included corporate executives, billionaires, foreign government officials, and high-powered lawyers and lobbyists, according to the paper. In turn, they won federal contracts, changes in law and appointments to ambassadorships or federal task forces, the Times said.
After his election Mr. Trump promised to recuse himself from the Trump Organization’s operations. Still, the president and his family have profited when lobbyists and executives signed up for private club memberships, or when corporate trade associations and others sponsored conferences and dinners at the hotels and resorts, the Times wrote.
Attendees have also paid for rounds of golf, steak meals and drinks at the bar, the paper noted. Some of those seeking favors were able to see the president, who regularly visits his properties, and discuss their business with him, the Times said.
Religious groups, many comprised of evangelical Christians, held more than two dozen prayer meetings, banquets and tours at the Trump-owned venues, according to the investigation. More than 70 advocacy organizations, companies and foreign governments booked events at the properties that had been previously held elsewhere before the Trump presidency.
Responding to the article, White House spokesman Judd Deere told the Times that the president had “turned over the day-to-day responsibilities of the very successful business he built” to his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. “The president has kept his promise every day to the American people to fight for them, drain the swamp and always put America first,” Mr. Deere said.
The Times investigation used information from Mr. Trump’s tax returns, lobbying disclosure forms, public records requests and published reports to create a database of organizations with interests before the government that patronized Mr. Trump’s properties.
The paper also said it interviewed almost 250 executives and lobbyists, club members, employees and current and former administration officials. — Bloomberg