Business Is Good For President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump’s expansive business empire brought in nearly $600 million in revenue since January 2016, according to a financial disclosure report released late Friday. The documents, which Trump was required to file with the Office of Government Ethics but not until 2018, provide a limited glimpse into the mixed success of his business during his campaign last year and, more recently, while sitting in the White House.
Overall revenue of at least $597 million during the disclosure period from January 2016 through May was down slightly, from $615 million last year. Similarly, Trump reported assets of at least $1.4 billion, down from $1.5 billion the previous year. Trump listed liabilities of a little more than $300 million. The report doesn’t include a detailed breakdown of profits and losses for the business entities it covers, and offers only ranges of revenue. But many of Trump’s holdings brought in a steady stream of cash, including his various golf clubs that accounted for roughly half of the total revenue reported Friday.
Among the biggest sources of revenue was the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which serves bar-goers candied bacon on a miniature clothesline and has become a favorite place for foreign officials doing business with Trump and his administration to stay, brought in nearly $20 million in revenue. A Las Vegas tower Trump co-owns with longtime business partner and friend Phil Ruffin recorded more than $41 million in revenue. Trump’s famed “Winter White House” Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, meanwhile, brought in more than $37 million in revenue. It’s unclear how much of that money can be attributed to the recent spike in initiation fee that Trump’s family-owned company, The Trump Organization, doubled at the resort earlier this year.
“President Trump welcomed the opportunity to voluntarily file his personal financial disclosure form; while this filing is voluntary (as no report was due until May 2018), it has been certified by the Office of Government Ethics pursuant to its normal procedures,” the White House said in a statement Friday night.
Since taking office, Trump has sold off some of his liquid assets and turned over day-to-day operations of his company to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. Still, Forbes estimates Trump’s own net worth to be $3.5 billion–easily making him the richest sitting president in history, but a far cry from the $10 billion he has repeatedly claimed he is worth. Trump chalks up the difference to the inherent value of his high-profile brand.
While the revenue reported in Trump’s financial disclosure flows into a trust that Trump’s son and his longtime CFO oversee, the president is able to withdraw money from the trust at any time. And while Trump has promised to stay out of his family’s business to avoid potential conflicts of interest, his own sons told Forbes recently that they plan to provide their father with regular updates on the company’s financials.
The financial disclosure does not provide new detail on Trump’s extensive network of global business partners, something that will likely only be fully understood if the president decides to adhere to decades of precedent and release his tax returns. Ethics experts have denounced Trump’s steadfast decision to maintain ownership in the business empire he built with his father, Fred, as insufficient at best and illegal at worst. Trump now faces three separate lawsuits, including cases brought against him by two states attorney’s general, a nonprofit government watchdog group and a slew of Democratic Congress members, over allegations that his foreign business interests violate the Constitution.