The Trump Organization has asked the federal government to include it in any accommodations it may make for private tenants as the coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread layoffs and a falloff in revenue at the company, the president’s son Eric Trump said Tuesday.
The discussions over the D.C. lease could pose a major test for how President Donald Trump’s administration intends to treat the president’s private business as it navigates a perilous time for the hospitality industry.
Trump’s company, which he still owns, pays the General Services Administration more than $260,000 per month to lease the Trump International Hotel Washington, situated in a federally-owned building a few blocks from the White House.
In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has asked the GSA about whether it is offering relief to other tenants, inquiries first reported by The New York Times.
“We asked if you are doing something for any of your other properties,” Eric Trump said. “All we are saying is don’t single us out. Treat us the same as everyone else.”
Last month, the Trump Organization asked Palm Beach County, Florida, officials for similar guidance about whether it needed to pay the April rent of $88,000 for land it leases at the Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach. The Trump Organization ultimately paid in full a week after the deadline but within a 10-day grace period.
Over the past six weeks, representatives for the General Services Administration have not responded to inquiries about the status of the lease or payments from the Trump Organization.
The GSA leases thousands of buildings from private landlords around the country, but has less than a dozen contracts where it leases federally owned space to private tenants. It is unclear whether the agency has offered to make any changes to leases because of the pandemic.
Trump Organization officials told The Washington Post previously that the company paid its April rent on time on the first of the month. Trump’s company has been trying to sell the hotel lease since late last year, but it paused negotiations due to the coronavirus shutdown.
Until the pandemic, the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington had been a bustling hub of the president’s supporters, lobbyists, Republican operatives and hangers-on. The coronavirus has eliminated that scene as the hotel’s restaurant and bars have closed, following citywide orders, and occupancy has dropped to a small fraction of normal, according to people familiar with the hotel.
More than 230 employees have been laid off at the hotel, according to city filings. Across Trump’s company, the situation is equally dire. Of the 24 clubs and hotels in the United States and abroad, 18 are now closed, including six of the top seven revenue producers.
The company has laid off or furloughed more than 2,600 employees at hotels and golf clubs in New York, Florida, California, Nevada, Illinois and elsewhere.