Just over a month before being sworn in as president, Donald Trump was asked about his potential conflicts of interest on “Fox News Sunday.”
“When I ran, everybody knew that I was a very big owner of real estate all over the world,” Trump said in December 2016. “. . . And I’ll be honest with you: I don’t care about it anymore. I’m so focused on doing a great job as president, I don’t care if [Trump Organization] rent goes up a little bit or down. I couldn’t care less.”
Fast-forward to Year 3 of Trump’s presidency, and Trump apparently is concerned about his company’s profitability. Twice over the past two weeks, Trump has complained about the presidency costing him $3 billion to $5 billion, without providing evidence. On Monday, Trump proposed hosting next year’s Group of Seven summit at his Doral resort in Florida, which could further boost revenue for his company.
The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and David A. Fahrenthold report:
“That decision would be an unprecedented use of American power to create private revenue for the American president. If Trump does choose Doral, he would be directing six world leaders, hundreds of hangers-on and massive amounts of money to a resort he owns personally – and which, according to his company’s representatives, has been ‘severely underperforming.’ “
As president, Trump has averaged two weekly visits to Trump Organization properties and has mentioned the names of four of those properties – Bedminster, Mar-a-Lago, Turnberry and Doral – at least 70 total times in White House speeches, interviews and tweets, according to a Washington Post review of Factba.se transcripts.
Trump told the “Today” show in December 2016 that he sold all of his stock holdings in June of that year because it would create a “conflict of interest” for him as president. But he refused to divest from his businesses, after promising to do so in 2016, and that has created dozens of potential conflicts.
His trips have brought at least $1.6 million in revenue to his businesses and probably more. Nearly one-third of political fundraisers or donor meetings Trump has attended have occurred at his properties. Foreign lobbyists have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump’s D.C. hotel.
Asked Monday about potentially profiting if the G-7 were hosted at Doral in 2020, Trump spent nearly three minutes touting Doral as a “wonderful place.”
“I don’t care about making money,” Trump said, following it up with how much he stands to lose by having stepped away from his business to run the country. “If I wanted to make money, I wouldn’t worry about $3 billion to $5 billion. Because that’s what – I mean, at some point, I’m going to detail that.”