Documents Confirm Trump Still Benefiting From His Business

Before taking office, President Trump promised to place his assets in a trust designed to erect a wall between him and the businesses that made him wealthy.

But newly released documents show that Trump himself is the sole beneficiary of the trust and that it is legally controlled by his oldest son and a longtime employee.

The documents, obtained through a public records request by the investigative news service ProPublica and first reported by the New York Times, also show that Trump retains the legal power to revoke the trust at any time.

The documents were filed to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Washington to alert the board that oversees liquor licenses at Trump’s D.C. hotel of the change in the business.

The documents show that Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, were placed in legal control of the trust on Jan. 19, one day before Trump took office.

But they outline that the trust’s purpose is “to hold assets for the exclusive benefit of Donald J. Trump,” who “has the power to revoke the Trust.”

The records provide documentary evidence of what ethics experts have been warning about since before Trump took office.

While Trump has promised he will observe a separation between his business and the presidency, he retains ownership of the business and will personally benefit if the business profits from decisions made by his government.

Further, the business will be run by family members who remain the most trusted members of Trump’s inner circle, raising questions about whether Trump’s promises to limit communication about the business’s fate are realistic.

“What I’m going to be doing is my two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company,” Trump had said at a news conference shortly before taking office. “They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They’re not going to discuss it with me.”

Less than two weeks after returning to their New York City home following their father’s inauguration, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric Trump, also assigned to run the business, were back in Washington this week to attend the announcement of Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Trump Organization representatives did not respond for comment about the documents Saturday.

The trust also does not dissolve other potential conflicts, including his title as executive producer of the NBC competition reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.” He recently made headlines for criticizing the show’s new host, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the National Prayer Breakfast.

NBC representatives have not said whether Trump will be compensated for that role, or how much. But executive producers are traditionally paid, even when only retaining a passive credit.

The trust document obtained by ProPublica is attached to license filings tied to Trump’s Washington hotel, and it remains unclear whether other Trump businesses are governed under the same trust. The company has declined multiple requests to provide company trust agreements that could provide more clarity.

In recent weeks, corporate filings have documented that the Trump Organization has been removing the president as an officer or director of the more than 400 entities registered across the country associated with the organization.

The Trump Organization also provided a list, signed by Trump on the day before his inauguration, of more than 400 companies from which he had agreed to resign. Other companies have been dissolved in recent months, the company said.

Those resignations provide evidence the president no longer has official management responsibilities in the businesses, as he and his attorney pledged during a news conference last month. Still, Trump will continue to profit from their success.

The company has also named Bobby Burchfield, a veteran Republican lawyer who has advised both Bush presidential teams, to serve as an outside ethics adviser, indicating that some corporate transactions would not be undertaken without his sign-off.

The question of Trump’s continued ownership stake has been particularly nettlesome at his Washington hotel, which is located in the Old Post Office building and is owned by the federal government. The terms of the 2013 lease agreement with the General Services Administration prohibit any elected official from benefiting from the property.

It is not yet clear whether placing his shares in the hotel under the control of the trust will provide sufficient legal separation to satisfy the terms of the lease. The GSA, which controls the lease, indicated on Jan. 27 that it had received new information from the Trump Organization and was “reviewing and evaluating this information to assess its compliance with the terms and conditions of the Old Post Office lease.”

Congressional Democrats, including Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), have been pressing the GSA to conclude that the Trump Organization is out of compliance with the lease.

“This legal concoction from President Trump’s lawyers does nothing to address his conflicts of interest or the breach of the lease for his hotel,” Cummings said in a statement.

(h/t The Washington Post)

Trump Opens National Prayer Breakfast Asking to Pray for ‘The Apprentice’ Ratings

At an event attended by thousands from countries around the world, President Donald Trump opened his Thursday remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast with talk of TV ratings.

The president noted his “tremendous success” as star of the reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump hosted the show for 14 seasons, and followed up the fact of his success by noting the show’s drop in ratings since his departure.

“We know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster,” Trump said. Actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has since rebooted the show.

“And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings,” he joked.

The Austria native was quick to respond to the president’s remarks, suggesting they swap jobs:

Millions in Campaign Funds Went to Trump Firms

President Trump’s campaign spent a total of $12.7 million at businesses run by him and his family members over the course of the 2016 presidential election, according to a tally of newly filed campaign-finance reports.

The largest sums went to Trump’s airline, TAG Air, which received $8.7 million as the Republican used his own jet to fly around the country, according to a USA TODAY analysis of year-end reports filed this week. Another $2 million went to Trump Tower, the Trump Organization skyscraper that housed his campaign headquarters.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, which Trump dubbed the Winter White House last month, received more than $435,000 during the campaign.

The spending at Trump properties, which continued after he won the election, underscores how much Trump was willing to mingle his political and business operations – from buying meals at his own Trump Grill to renting space at his own golf clubs.

More than $3,000 went to Trump ICE LLC, Trump’s bottled-water brand, for “office supplies,” according to Federal Election Commission filings.

In all, the amount spent at Trump businesses by his political operation represent a little more than 19% of the $66.1 million Trump himself donated to the campaign and less than 10% of the $133.6 million that flowed into his main campaign account from other donors.

The spending could well continue if he decides to seek re-election. Trump filed a statement of candidacy for the 2020 election on Inauguration Day because he had already surpassed the $5,000 fundraising threshold to require reporting contributions for the next election, he noted in a letter to the Federal Election Commission. That doesn’t mean he’s definitely running in 2020, Trump said in the filing.

CEO of Russia’s State Oil Company Offered Trump Adviser, Allies a Cut of Huge Deal If Sanctions Were Lifted

A dossier with unverified claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia contained allegations that Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state oil company, offered former Trump ally Carter Page and his associates the brokerage of a 19% stake in the company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia.

The dossier says the offer was made in July, when Page was in Moscow giving a speech at the Higher Economic School. The claim was sourced to “a trusted compatriot and close associate” of Sechin, according to the dossier’s author, former British spy Christopher Steele.

“Sechin’s associate said that the Rosneft president was so keen to lift personal and corporate western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered Page and his associates the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatised) stake in Rosneft,” the dossier said. “In return, Page had expressed interest and confirmed that were Trump elected US president, then sanctions on Russia would be lifted.”

Four months before the intelligence community briefed Trump, then-President Barack Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, and the nation’s top lawmakers on the dossier’s claims — most of which have not been independently verified but are being investigated by US intelligence agencies — a US intelligence source told Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff that Sechin met with Page during Page’s three-day trip to Moscow. Sechin, the source told Yahoo, raised the issue of the US lifting sanctions on Russia under Trump.

Page was an early foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign. He took a “leave of absence” in September after news broke of his July trip to Moscow, and the campaign later denied that he had ever worked with it.

Page, for his part, was “noncommittal” in his response to Sechin’s requests that the US lift the sanctions, the dossier said. But he signaled that doing so would be Trump’s intention if he won the election, and he expressed interest in Sechin’s offer, according to the document.

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump suggested the sanctions could be lifted if Moscow proved to be a useful ally. “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us,” Trump asked, “why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”

Page has criticized the US sanctions on Russia as “sanctimonious expressions of moral superiority.” He praised Sechin in a May 2014 blog post for his “accomplishments” in advancing US-Russia relations. A US official serving in Russia while Page worked at Merrill Lynch in Moscow told Isikoff that Page “was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did.”

Page is also believed to have met with senior Kremlin internal affairs official Igor Diveykin while he was in Moscow last July, according to Isikoff’s intelligence sources. The dossier separately claimed that Diveykin — whom US officials believe was responsible for the intelligence collected by Russia about the US election — met with Page and hinted that the Kremlin possessed compromising information about Trump.

It is unclear whether Isikoff’s reporting is related to the dossier, which has been circulating among top intelligence officials, lawmakers, and journalists since mid-2016.

A scramble for a foreign investor

After mid-October, the dossier said, Sechin predicted that it would no longer be possible for Trump to win the presidency, so he “put feelers out to other business and political contacts” to purchase a stake in Rosneft.

Rosneft then scrambled to find a foreign investor, holding talks with more than 30 potential buyers from Europe, the US, Asia, and the Middle East. The company signed a deal on December 7 to sell 19.5% of shares, or roughly $11 billion, to the multinational commodity trader Glencore Plc and Qatar’s state-owned wealth fund. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is Glencore’s largest shareholder.

The “11th hour deal” was “so last minute,” Reuters reported, “that it appeared it would not close in time to meet the government’s deadline for booking money in the budget from the sale.”

The purchase amounted to the biggest foreign investment in Russia since US sanctions took effect in 2014. It showed that “there are some forces in the world that are ready to help Russia to circumvent the [West’s] sanction regime,” said Lilia Shevtsova, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House.

“In Russia we have a marriage between power and business, and that is why all important economic deals need approval and the endorsement of the authorities,” Shevtsova said. “This was a very serious commercial deal that hardly could have succeeded without the direct involvement of the Kremlin.”

The privatization deal was funded by Gazprombank, whose parent company is the state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Page holds investments in Gazprom, though he claimed in a letter to FBI Director James Comey in September that he sold his stake in the company “at a loss.” His website says he served as an adviser “on key transactions” for the state-owned energy giant before setting up his energy investment fund, Global Energy Capital, in 2008 with former Gazprom executive Sergei Yatsenko.

There is no evidence that Carter played any role in the Rosneft deal. But he was back in Moscow on December 8 — one day after the deal was signed — to “meet with some of the top managers” of Rosneft, he told reporters at the time. Page denied meeting with Sechin, Rosneft’s CEO, during that trip but said it would have been “a great honor” if he had.

The Rosneft deal, Page added, was “a good example of how American private companies are unfortunately limited to a great degree due to the influence of sanctions.” He said the US and Russia had entered “a new era” of relations but that it was still “too early” to discuss whether Trump would be easing or lifting sanctions on Moscow.

Page’s extensive business ties to state-owned Russian companies were investigated by a counterintelligence task force set up last year by the CIA. The investigation, which is reportedly ongoing, has examined whether Russia was funneling money into Trump’s presidential campaign — and, if it was, who was serving as the liaison between the Trump team and the Kremlin.

The dossier claims that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort asked Page to be the liaison. That claim has not been verified. Manafort served as a top adviser to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine from 2004 to 2012 and emerged as a central figure in both the dossier and the intelligence community’s early inquiries into Trump’s ties to Russia.

(h/t Business Insider)

Ethics Concerns as Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Membership Fee Doubles to $200,000

Trump Mar a Lago resort

Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort owned by the Trump Organization, doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 following the election of Donald Trump as president.

People close to the Florida resort said the increase took effect Jan. 1. The resort had been considering an increase for some time, said those people, who declined to provide their names because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment. But the timing is likely to add to criticism that the Trump Organization is trying to benefit from the president’s election.

Indeed, shortly after the fee hike was revealed, Barack Obama’s former top ethics lawyer told MSNBC that the increase is a “not very subtle exploitation of the fact that the club’s figurehead is now president of the U.S.”

“This type of naked profiteering off of a government office is what I would expect from King Louis XVI or his modern kleptocratic equivalents, not an American president,” Norm Eisen said.

A membership at Mar-a-Lago now includes a chance to mingle with the 45th president. Trump plans to use the resort as his occasional “Winter White House.” He has visited twice since his election — first for Thanksgiving and then over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

There’s no way of knowing whether demand for memberships has grown. The initiation fee for Mar-a-Lago had been $100,000 since 2012, when it was cut from $200,000. People close to the resort said the fee was reduced following a decline in memberships after the Bernie Madoff scandal, which claimed many wealthy Palm Beach victims.

On top of the initiation fee of $200,000 plus tax, members also pay $14,000 a year in annual dues (plus tax).

The 20-acre resort has a main mansion with more 100 rooms, along with private quarters for Trump and his family. It also has a beach club, pools, restaurant, tennis courts and a 20,000-square-foot ballroom that Trump built for events.

Trump has resigned his position as CEO of the Trump Organization and put his assets into a trust. It will now be run by his two sons. Details of the trust and Trump’s income from the company remain unclear.

While the company has said it will stop any new deals overseas, it will continue to expand in the U.S. And the Mar-a-Lago price hike shows that it can also grow through higher fees and rates.

At a conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the chief executive of Trump Hotels said the company has room to expand in the U.S.

“There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we’re in five,” CEO Eric Danziger said, according to Bloomberg. “I don’t see any reason that we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.”

A spokesman for Trump Hotels told CNBC that the company sees “significant growth opportunity in the United States for both our hotel brands.”

(h/t CNBC)

Trump Just Used His Presidential Power to Advertise a Donor

After the co-owner of retailer L.L. Bean expressed support for President-elect Donald Trump, the future leader of the United States urged his 19.6 million Twitter followers to buy the company’s goods.

The unprecedented endorsement came less than two hours after Linda Bean said on a talk show early Thursday that anti-Trump groups are browbeating American businesses, an effort she called “un-American.” “It’s a case of bullying,” Bean said on Fox and Friends. “I’m not going to back down. I never back down.”

Bean, a granddaughter of L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean, contributed $30,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC called Making America Great Again LLC between August and October of last year, according to recently amended federal filings. Another $15,000 was contributed by Maine resident Diana Bean, the name of Linda’s sister.

The PAC, which also goes by Making Maine Great Again, ran a spate of TV and radio ads in the state toward the end of the campaign.

It was not until this month, however, that Linda Bean’s support for Trump burst into public view, when the Federal Election Commission alerted the group that it had erroneously formed as a traditional PAC, which can legally only accept donations up to $5,000.

That prompted Grab Your Wallet, a boycott effort against companies that carry Trump brand products or have other connections to the president-elect, to add L.L. Bean to its list. Organizers have said they will not take L.L. Bean off its website until Linda Bean is ejected from the board.

The company has asked for the boycott to be dropped, saying that the corporation has no connection to the PAC.

“We are deeply troubled by the portrayal of L.L.Bean as a supporter of any political agenda,” Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman posted on Facebook on Jan. 8. “L.L.Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions.”

Katherine DeCelles, a Harvard business professor who focuses on ethics, said no White House leader in modern history has used their platform to hawk products.

“It’s unprecedented,” she said, “for someone of his power voicing his support or being against particular companies.”

Federal employees are legally forbidden from endorsing private firms. Though the president is exempt from the rule and the president-elect is not a federal employee, such endorsements are largely frowned upon in America’s highest office.

In 2009, after a coat company used a photo of President Obama in an ad campaign, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama administration, told the New York Times that, “the White House has a long-standing policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.”

Amanda Schreyer, an advertising and social media lawyer in Boston, said Trump’s tweet broke no laws Thursday. He’s entitled to free speech (but could face lawsuits if he distributes false information about a company and hurts its profit).

“It’s just poor form,” Schreyer said. The president-elect, she added, “shouldn’t be picking and choosing which companies to endorse or otherwise.”

Since the election, Trump has made a practice of praising and chastising private companies. Last month, he slammed air conditioning company Carrier for moving jobs from Indiana to Mexico. He also has criticized several automakers for offshoring jobs and Boeing for the cost of its new Air Force One.

Trump’s tweets tend to spark publicity storms around his targets. Kellan Terry, a data analyst at Brandwatch, said online mentions of L.L. Bean have surged 990 percent since Wednesday, jumping from 2,200 to 22,000.

David Mayer, a leadership and ethics in business professor at the University of Michigan, said it’s natural for people to want to reward those who demonstrate loyalty. But reciprocity from the president-elect, he said, is problematic for the free market, creating incentive for executives to craft their messaging around pleasing the country’s leader.

“You gain advantages from the government for supporting it,” Mayor said. “And when that happens, you could also become afraid to criticize the government.”

(h/t Washington Post)




Eric Trump Foundation Flouts Charity Standards

A charity operated by one of Donald Trump’s sons flouts philanthropic standards by financially benefiting charities connected to the Trump family and members of the charity’s board, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The AP found that Eric Trump has exaggerated the size of his foundation and the donations it receives. At the same time, the charity’s payments for services or donations to other groups repeatedly went to one of Donald Trump’s private golf clubs and to charities linked to the Trumps by corporate, family or philanthropic relationships.

The Eric Trump Foundation has raised $7.3 million mostly for children ill with cancer, according to IRS filings since 2007. The charity has long raised money from donors willing to make large contributions to hobnob with the Trumps. For example, golf at the foundation’s chief 2015 fundraiser cost up to $50,000 per foursome. Donald Trump often attends these events, which include a gala dinner, and mixes with the guests and has his photo taken.

On Wednesday, the younger Trump said he’ll cease soliciting donations for his nonprofit to avoid accusations that contributions could be perceived as a means to buy access to the Trump White House.

The announcement to stop raising money for the foundation followed cancellation of an online auction for “Coffee with Ivanka,” Eric’s sister. The auction was to be sponsored by the Eric Trump Foundation, whose proceeds generally benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Concerns about the mingling of politics, business and charity have escalated since Donald Trump’s election. Eric Trump, 32, serves as an executive vice president of his father’s corporate umbrella, The Trump Organization. He was active in his father’s campaign for president, serving as a campaign surrogate, spokesman and senior aide. Following the election, he acted as an executive committee member of the Donald Trump presidential transition team. The president-elect has tapped Eric and his brother Donald Jr., to run the family business empire during the Trump presidency.

In addition to the hubbub about the auction for face time with Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. drew attention with their involvement in an offer of a hunting trip with either of them in exchange for a donation of up to $1 million to a new charity that Eric Trump was on record supporting. That offering also has been scuttled over concerns about pay-for-access.

Under IRS rules, a public charity collects money to serve a public mission. Any money passed along to other charities also needs to serve such a mission, without favor to those connected to the original charity’s founder, board members, or relatives of its board. Charity boards are supposed to act as independent watchdogs. While the IRS generally gives charities leeway in the hope of encouraging public missions, a pattern of such behavior – even if the receiving charities do good work – could leave the impression that board members are trying to further personal agendas rather than public good.

Among other AP findings:

-The Eric Trump Foundation failed to report multiple conflicts of interest by supposedly independent board members who work for The Trump Organization or Eric Trump’s winery, as required by the IRS.

-Based on its revenue and giving, the Eric Trump Foundation is a small-to-medium-sized charity. Eric Trump has repeatedly overstated its size. In 2015, for example, he said his group was “one of the largest foundations anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world.” Told of the claim, Associate Dean Patrick Rooney at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy said, “That’s just silly.”

-Though public charity boards are supposed to represent the public, Eric Trump has loaded his board with friends, relatives and Trump employees. They include two Trump company executives who served as senior presidential campaign aides: former Westchester golf club manager Dan Scavino and special Trump counsel Michael D. Cohen. The charity’s executive director, Paige Scardigli, was a close college friend of Eric Trump at Georgetown University.

In 2014, at least 12 of 16 board members had personal or financial ties to the Trumps outside of the charity, records show. The foundation’s board has also included Lawrence Glick, executive vice president of Strategic Development for The Trump Organization; Kerry Woolard, general manager of Eric’s Trump Winery; Steven Levine, a public relations operative who helped cast Donald Trump’s “The Celebrity Apprentice”; and Eric Trump’s college buddies Andrew R. Graves and Andrew Joblon.

-In an extraordinary provision, the foundation’s bylaws make Eric Trump chairman as long as he remains on the board. It reserves board seats for any children he might eventually have. “What right does he have to put his child on the board? It’s not his private business,” said Daniel Borochoff, president of CharityWatch.

-Eric Trump has falsely claimed his charity raises more money because its golf fundraisers don’t have to pay for use of the family golf courses. In a 2013 promotional video, he said that “we were able to come up with this concept of raising a lot of money with really no expense,” by using Trump golf clubs. Eric Trump had previously said in an AP interview that his charity has reimbursed costs of fundraisers at Trump National Golf Club Westchester. IRS documents show $881,829 paid from 2007 to 2014.

-The foundation failed to report to the IRS, as required, that it paid $100,000 to a Trump golf club in 2013, a potential conflict of interest. When asked by AP, Scardigli called the omission an “oversight.”

The golf club transactions violate a pledge made when Eric Trump sought tax-free status from the IRS. The charity said it wouldn’t do business with a company if any of its corporate officers also were on the charity’s board; Eric Trump is executive vice president of The Trump Organization, which operates and controls the collection of Trump golf courses. Eric Trump oversees the Trump Organization’s golf operations worldwide.

The Eric Trump Foundation has often claimed its fundraising benefits from significant donations of goods and services but its IRS filings show no such donations. When asked, Scardigli said the amount of donated good “considered reportable” was insignificant.

After Eric Trump’s wife Lara joined her husband’s charity board, her favorite groups also began receiving gifts. From 2012-2014, the foundation gave a total of $181,250 to five animal welfare groups where she had visited or volunteered. An animal welfare advocate and enthusiastic rider, she was pictured horseback riding at one of the locations, the Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, in a 2014 Facebook posting by that group.

Similarly, the Eric Trump Foundation’s largesse has landed at multiple Jewish organizations tied to Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. In 2014, the foundation donated $10,000 to Chai Lifeline, a Jewish group for sick children and their families. That charity’s co-chairman, Larry Spiewak, is a friend of Ivanka and her husband and attended their wedding. A Jewish community leader, he became an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s run for president.

Also, there have been links between board members of the Eric Trump Foundation and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

His father’s campaign paid $14.2 million to the company of foundation board member Christl Mahfouz, Ace Specialties, L.L.C., for campaign paraphernalia. Other campaign payments went to foundation board members Scavino, Glick and Woolard.

Foundation executive board member Jerry Kaufman was paid $2,000 in rent. He is a car racer and real estate entrepreneur who served as master of ceremonies at a Trump campaign rally in July.

(h/t Associated Press)

Trump Pressured Kuwait Into Holding Event At His Washington D.C. Hotel

The Embassy of Kuwait reportedly switched the location of an event from a Four Seasons hotel to Donald Trump’s new hotel in Washington, D.C., citing pressure from members of Trump’s organization.

The report from Think Progress, a blog connected to the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, says the ambassador of Kuwait abruptly canceled a reservation with the Four Seasons, where it has held its National Day event in the past, shortly after the election.

The embassy has now signed a contract with Trump International Hotel.

Think Progress said members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect, citing a source with direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy. ThinkProgress said it also reviewed documentary evidence confirming the source’s report.

The switch was made just days after an event at Trump’s D.C. hotel where 100 foreign diplomats gathered to discuss “how are we going to build ties with the new administration,” according to a report by the Washington Post.

Foreign diplomats have openly admitted that some see staying at the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel owned by the president-elect as a chance to curry favor with Trump.

“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ” one Asian diplomat told the Washington Post last month.

Trump has been under scrutiny to explain how he will separate himself from his business interests when he takes office. He has said his adult children will run the Trump empire without his input, but no formal plans have been announced.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Put $12.5 million In To His Own Businesses During Race

Donald Trump paid nearly $12.5 million to his own businesses and family members during his 18-month campaign for president, a CNN review of federal reports shows.

The biggest beneficiary was Tag Air Inc., a Trump-owned company that operates his airplanes and was paid $8.7 million. The next biggest payment — $2.2 million — went to Trump Payroll Corp. and Trump Tower Commercial LLC.

One campaign finance watchdog said no candidate had ever run so much of a campaign’s spending through his own businesses.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen one like this,” said Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center.

The list of Trump businesses that were paid by the campaign is long.

Trump’s hotels and golf clubs received $1.4 million. Some $238,000 went to Trump restaurants and food services.

His son’s company, Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing, got $32,196.

All of the money came directly from Trump’s own campaign. And it’s all legal.

The campaign did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

“If he did it legally and it was in the ordinary course of business, you have to say that he’s allowed to do that,” Noble said. “If he was doing it to make a profit off of it, and he charged more than he was supposed to have charged, then there is a problem.” There is no evidence the Trump campaign did that.

The reports show big and small ticket items.

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach estate, got $423,371. Trump Ice, his bottled water company, got $2,085.

Then there are Trump’s restaurants in Trump Tower. The campaign paid Trump Grill $607. Trump Cafe got $94.

“The issue here, in part, was the scale at which it was done,” Noble said. “He had these businesses. He could do it at such a tremendous scale.”

(h/t CNN)


Here is the list of Trump-related businesses that were paid in descending order:

  1. Tag Air Inc., $8,.7 million
  2. Trump Tower Commercial, $2.2 million
  3. Trump hotels and golf clubs: $1.4 million
  4. Trump’s Palm Beach Estate:  $423,371
  5. Trump restaurants and food services: $238,000
  6. Trump’s own book: $55,000
  7. Son Eric Trump’s Wine Manufacturing: $32,196
  8. Trump Ice (bottled water company): $2,085.
  9. Trump Grill, also famous for Trump’s “I Love Hispanics” taco bowl: $607
  10. Trump Cafe: $94



Ivanka Trump to Get White House Office

Ivanka Trump will reportedly get an office in the space typically reserved for the first lady, according to CNN.

CNN’s Lisa Miranda tweeted the news on Wednesday, citing a report by CNN’s Sara Murray, who covered President-elect Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

Instead of moving into the White House in January, the incoming first lady, Melania Trump, will continue to live in New York City with her son Barron as he finishes the school year.

Some have speculated that Ivanka, one of the president-elect’s daughters, will fill a role similar to first lady’s during her father’s presidency. The New York Times reported this month that she may be one of the most powerful first daughters in history.

In early December, she met with former Vice President Al Gore, a prominent climate change activist, at Trump Tower in New York City. The first daughter reportedly plans to make global warming one of her main issues.

Trump has said he’d “love” to have Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, involved in his administration.

“If you look at Ivanka – she’s so strongly, as you know, into the women’s issues and childcare, … nobody could do better than her,” Trump said earlier this month.

He announced in two tweets earlier this week that his adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, “plus executives” will take over his businesses before the inauguration. But he canceled a press conference scheduled for Thursday where he would have discussed details of his plan for transitioning his businesses.

The tweets did not include information on Ivanka’s relationship to his businesses moving forward.

(h/t The Hill)

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