Trump’s swanky DC hotel is actually a $70 million dollar money pit.
When then-candidate Donald Trump took time out of the busy 2016 presidential campaign to open his newest hotel in Washington D.C.’s Old Post Office building, he bragged that “my job is to look at undeveloped spaces and imagine what they could be.” It speaks volumes, then, to the former president’s much-vaulted imagination that Trump International Hotel DC has apparently been losing tens of millions of dollars per year ever since.
According to a just-released report from the House Oversight Committee reviewing the Trump Organization’s lease with the federal government for the hotel property, the former-president has seemingly been fudging the numbers when it comes to reporting on the financial health of what was to be the crown jewel of his eponymous hotel chain. All told, while Trump claimed his hotel had made just over $150 million between 2016 and 2020 on his financial disclosure forms, the documents reviewed by the House Oversight Committee show the property actually suffered losses anywhere from $2.5 million to $22 million per year, for a grand total of over $73 million gone during the course of his presidency.
Moreover, Trump’s losses were evidently partially covered by a complex series of money-shuffling maneuvers, including loans from one of his personal holding companies, and “undisclosed preferential treatment” on the part of his Deutsche Bank funders. He also received payments “sufficient to cover over 7,400 nights at the Trump Hotel at the average daily rate” from foreign governments in potential violation of the Emoluments clause of the constitution.
“The documents provided by [General Services Administration] raise new and troubling questions about former President Trump’s lease with GSA and the agency’s ability to manage the former President’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant,” Democratic committee chairs Carolyn Malone and Gerry Connolly wrote in a statement accompanying their report.
It’s important to point out that this sort of financial hall of smoke and mirrors is not, in and of itself, anything new for Trump — indeed, he’s long been infamous for fudging numbers, cooking books, and generally playing fast and loose with his (and other people’s) money, all while hiding his true fortune from prying eyes. But Friday’s report is noteworthy for evidently being the first instance in which information from the former president’s private books has been reviewed and publicly released by congress. In that sense, the significance of Trump’s apparent financial malfeasance is not so much that it happened — of course it happened! Does anyone truly believe he’s been 100% honest about his money at any point in his entire life? — as it is that congress might actually be poised to do something about it.
Trump, meanwhile, is strongly signaling his intent to run for office again in 2024 — a move that would not only vault him back into the political maelstrom he left for Democrats to clean up after, but which would refill his coffers with campaign donations and even more opportunities to make, move, and lie about where his money is, and how it got there to begin with.