The investigative outfit ProPublica estimated earlier this month that the payday lending industry spent roughly $1 million holding two conferences at Trump National Doral Miami, after donating heavily to the president’s inaugural committee. As far as ProPublica could ascertain, the payday lenders had never held conferences at any Trump property before 2018. Meanwhile, they have been fighting rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau meant to crack down on the industry’s parasitic practices.
Then there is the foreign money. “Representatives of at least 22 foreign governments appear to have spent money at Trump Organization properties,” NBC News found , noting that the count suggested “a significant foreign cash flow to the American president.” Countries such as Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have hosted events at Trump facilities. Iraq, China, Malaysia and Slovakia have either rented or bought property in Trump buildings. Other countries have upgraded infrastructure in such a way that helped Trump properties within their borders.
The Trump Organization, the president’s private business, has said it donates foreign profits to the U.S. treasury, but how it calculates its numbers is opaque. Moreover, high demand driven in part by foreign patronage no doubt helps keep rates high at Trump International Hotel in Washington. And not every foreigner seeking attention from the Trump administration represents a foreign government. The Post reported this month that Nahro al-Kasnazan, an Iraqi sheikh and aspiring politician, paid tens of thousands of dollars to stay at Trump International for 26 nights last year, as he was urging administration officials to take a tough line on Iran. Former prime ministers of Thailand and a Nigerian presidential candidate have also been guests.
No surprise that Mr. Trump’s most recent financial disclosure forms, released last month, show that the Trump International Hotel produced $41 million in revenue, accounting for almost one-tenth of the Trump Organization’s revenue last year. According to additional financial disclosure reports released this month, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House adviser, made $4 million off the hotel last year.
Courts might eventually conclude that foreign transactions at Mr. Trump’s properties represent illegal emoluments — and judges should expedite their consideration of this question. But as long as the president maintains such close ties to a broad array of businesses, wealthy people seeking favors will see them as a way to siphon money into Mr. Trump’s pocket.