Since Donald Trump won the 2016 election, his namesake company has appeared to be running in place.
The Trump Organization hasn’t opened a new property since its (now shuttered) Vancouver hotel in February 2017. Its biggest plans for expansion — two new lower-cost hotel chains aimed at Trump-friendly states — were canceled in 2019. Trump had left his adult sons Eric and Donald Jr. in charge, along with now-indicted executive Allen Weisselberg. They appeared to be simply trying to hold Trump’s oddball assortment of businesses together, avoiding big changes until he was out of office.
Now, he’s out.
But some of the company’s biggest questions remain unresolved.
The first is: Who’s in charge? On paper, it’s Donald Trump Jr.: he is now the sole officer of the trust that runs the company, after Weisselberg resigned in the wake of an indictment for tax fraud and grand larceny. In practice, people who know the company say, it’s more complicated. The former president has the power to run the company, and he now visits the company’s Trump Tower offices at least one day a week in the summer. But he remains preoccupied by politics and still leaves day-to-day management to his sons, one person close to him told The Washington Post.
The second big question: What should the Trump Organization become now?
The Trump Organization and its executives have not responded to questions on that subject.
From the outside, there appear to be several possible paths forward.
1.) Keep the status quo.
Pros: This would preserve the company’s chance at a post-politics revival, by holding on to properties like its Scottish golf courses and U.S. hotels that depend on attracting non-political customers. It would also allow time for Trump to obtain a gaming license for his struggling Doral resort in Florida — a task made easier this year by Trump’s allies in Florida politics.
Cons: If Trump plans to run for president again, this option leaves his company stuck between two worlds, trying to sell the old Trump brand — based on apolitical luxury — even as Trump the politician tarnished it. Even if Trump doesn’t run, this strategy leaves him facing a significant amount of outstanding debt. Last year, the New York Times reported that Trump had personally guaranteed $421 million in outstanding loans, much of it on his Doral resort and his hotel in Washington, D.C.
2.) Sell off the hotels, keep everything else.
Trump has already put his D.C. hotel on the market. The company could also sell off its remaining hotels, including the debt-laden Doral and properties in Scotland where he has sunk more than $289 million without making a profit. Potential buyers started circling earlier this year, believing they could make money simply by removing Trump’s polarizing name.
Pros: The company would no longer have to work against Trump’s political messaging — trying to win back the big-spending customers he was driving away. It could also raise money to invest in projects that target his political fans — like a new TV venture or social-media network.
Cons: Trump could have trouble attracting high bids, both because of the coronavirus pandemic’s continuing effect on the hotel market, and because investors may suspect he’s selling under duress.
3.) Keep the hotels, but re-brand them.
Call them the “T” hotels — or, better yet, use a name with no hint of the Trump brand. The Trump Organization already considered opening hotels without their famous name: their lower-cost hotel chains were set to be called “Scion” and “American Idea.”
Pros: Rebranding would allow the Trump Organization to sell their hotels on luxury and location, without having a politician’s name over the door. And they could keep the golf courses, whose members — who have already sunk their initiation fees — are less likely to leave than hotel customers.
Cons: Trump Hotels by any other name would still have a handicap: they must compete with giants like Hilton and Marriott, who can offer customers rewards points redeemable across a far larger network. Also, Trump once claimed his name was worth $4 billion by itself: this plan would require him to take it off his own hotels. The decision might be easier if the 75-year-old Trump formally gave up control of his company, handing the reins completely to his sons.
4.) Sell off almost everything, and refocus the business around politics.
In this scenario, the Trump Organization could sell off its largest properties, including hotels and golf courses, and refocus on two kinds of low-risk business enterprises. One would be businesses that cater to Trump’s political following: its online store selling Trump-branded merchandise, and the clubs in Palm Beach Fla., and Bedminster, N.J. where the ex-president lives, holds fundraisers and charges the Secret Service rent. The other kind of business it would be sensible to keep would be those producing revenue with little effort, like Trump’s minority stakes in New York and San Francisco skyscrapers owned by real estate giant Vornado.
Pros: This would sharply reduce the company’s overhead costs, and align it with Trump’s current focus on politics.
Cons: In addition to Trump’s potential difficulties finding willing buyers and good prices for this many assets, downsizing would also require him to kill the old Trump Organization — and an old version of himself. The author of “The Art of the Deal” would effectively give up the deals that made him famous.
What’s happening now
The suspect in the Atlanta-area spa shooting pleaded guilty to four murder charges and will face four consecutive life sentences in prison without parole.
Four officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before the select committee launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to probe the insurrection. “The panel, which has begun its work amid intense partisan rancor, is expected to hear about the physical and verbal abuse experienced by the officers as they tried to protect the Capitol from rioters engaged in acts of insurrection who arrived as Congress sought to count the 2020 electoral college results and declare Joe Biden president,” John Wagner, Kim Bellware, Karoun Demirjian, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany report. Follow The Post's live coverage here.
“Two Capitol Police officers, Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell, told lawmakers of their ongoing efforts to grapple with the fallout of having come under attack at the hands of rioters,” Demirjian reports. “‘That day continues to be a constant trauma for us, literally every day,’ Gonell, who was attacked with chemical spray that made his skin burn and needed surgery to repair his injuries, told the committee. ‘January 6 still isn’t over for me,’ Dunn said, describing in harrowing detail how insurrectionists wearing MAGA hats and ‘Trump 2020’ T-shirts repeatedly called him the n-word to his face for telling them he voted for Biden — and did the same to several of his Black colleagues.”
“Dunn and Gonell, and D.C. police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, have gone public with their stories before. But the forum of the hearing will potentially allow them to provide more detailed accounts of what they experienced and make direct appeals to lawmakers to remedy the situation.”
Fanone – who suffered a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury that day – graphically recounted defending the Capitol from rioters. “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them, and too many in this room … are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or hell actually wasn’t that bad,” Fanone said, furiously slamming his fist on the dais. “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”
Quote of the day
“Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from our bad days, from how we take accountability for that,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said, choking back tears.
From a Forbes reporter:
House GOP leaders attacked Pelosi before today’s hearing. “House Republican leaders sought to blame Pelosi for the events of Jan. 6, arguing that she was responsible for officers not being sufficiently prepared to repel the pro-Trump rioters,” Wagner and Donna Cassata report. “‘January 6 should have never happened,’ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said outside the Capitol. ‘We should have prepared and been prepared for the officers, made sure they have the training and the equipment that they needed.’ McCarthy and other House GOP leaders also took aim at Pelosi for removing from the select committee Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jim Bank (Ind.), two of the five Republican members McCarthy selected. McCarthy later withdrew his three other picks in protest.
“McCarthy suggested that the two were removed because they wanted to explore the role of the speaker’s office in the security breakdown, saying Pelosi would put on the committee only people who ‘will ask the questions she wants asked.’ ... Both Banks and Jordan voted against certifying Biden’s electoral college win and opposed an investigation of the events of Jan. 6. The Capitol Police Board controls security at the Capitol."
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) hit back at criticism from her fellow Republicans over her role in the probe. “She said they have tried to ‘whitewash’ the attack by a pro-Trump mob,” Bellware reports. “This is absolutely not a game. This is deadly serious,” Cheney said on “Good Morning America” just hours before the hearing was set to begin.
In an op-ed for today’s Post, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, said nothing will be off-limits in the investigation. “The committee will provide the definitive accounting of one of the darkest days in our history. Armed with answers, we hope to identify actions that Congress and the executive branch can take to help ensure that it never happens again,” Thompson writes. “Regrettably, some are already focusing their energies on maligning the select committee before its work has even begun. We will not be distracted by politically motivated sideshows.”
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Lunchtime reads from The Post
- “Former senator Mike Enzi dies after being injured in bike accident,” by Paul Kane: “Enzi (R-Wyo.), the onetime chairman of two Senate panels crucial to domestic policy, died Monday after suffering serious injuries in a bicycle accident. He was 77. Enzi was riding his bicycle near his home in Gillette, Wyo., when he was injured Friday and flown to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colo. Enzi ‘passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family,’ a statement posted to his Twitter account late Monday said. His family said they plan to share details about a ‘celebration of a life well-lived’ at a later time.” Enzi’s ex-Senate colleagues shared their condolences online:
- “States that cut unemployment early aren’t seeing a hiring boom, but who gets hired is changing,” by Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam: “A new analysis by payroll processor Gusto, conducted for The Washington Post, found that small restaurants and hospitality businesses in states such as Missouri, which ended the extra unemployment benefits early, saw a jump in hiring of workers over age 25. The uptick in hiring of older workers was roughly offset by the slower hiring of teens in these states. In contrast, restaurants and hospitality businesses in states such as Kansas, where the full benefits remain, have been hiring a lot more teenagers who are less experienced and less likely to qualify for unemployment aid.”
- “A motorcycle-riding lawyer searches Guatemala’s remotest corners to reunite families separated by the U.S.,” by Kevin Sieff: “The missing family on Eriberto Pop’s list had to be around here, he thought. He had spent eight hours in a car and several more on a motorcycle to get to this remote area in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Now he looked up at the muddy slope rising before him, the road disappearing into the hillside. This last stretch he would have to do on foot. He stuffed the U.S. government records in his backpack. There was a note printed at the bottom of the first page, a dispatch from the Biden era that had made its way here: ‘Do whatever you can to find the family.’ More than four years after the Trump administration began separating migrant families at the border, Pop is among a handful of searchers trying to find the parents deported alone to some of the farthest-flung corners of Central America. Two hundred seventy-five of them are still missing.”
… and beyond
- “ 'I’m a Parkland shooting survivor. QAnon convinced my dad it was all a hoax,’ ” by Vice’s David Gillbert: “Bill’s final semester at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was already difficult enough. He was part of the final graduating class of survivors of the 2018 shooting, and they all had just marked the third anniversary of the day 17 people were killed, nine of whom were Bill’s classmates. But Bill also had to deal with his father’s daily accusations that the shooting was a hoax and that the shooter, Bill, and all his classmates were paid pawns in a grand conspiracy orchestrated by some shadowy force. ... ‘He'll say stuff like this straight to my face whenever he's drinking: ‘You're a real piece of work to be able to sit here and act like nothing ever happened if it wasn't a hoax. Shame on you for being part of it and putting your family through it too,’ Bill said in an anonymous post on Reddit last week. Bill first posted his story on QAnon Casualties, a Reddit thread dedicated to helping family members and friends of QAnon believers. VICE News spoke to the poster and confirmed the author’s claims about being a survivor of the school shooting. Bill is not the student’s real name as they only spoke to VICE News on the condition of anonymity.”
- “New York’s $200 french fries offer ‘escape’ from reality,” by Reuters’s Angela Moore: “Jerome Powell, this story's for you. The Federal Reserve chair, always on the look-out for signs of inflation, might want to drop by Manhattan's Upper East Side, where a $200 plate of french fries stretches the definition of haute cuisine. The restaurant Serendipity 3 already claims world records for the most expensive burger ($295) and ice cream sundae ($1,000), so if the question is, ‘You want fries with that?’ its answer is a resounding yes. ... The Crème de la Crème Pomme Frites start out as Chipperbec potatoes. They are blanched — or scalded — in vinegar and champagne. Then they fry in pure goose fat, not oil, and not once but twice, so they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Sprinkled with edible gold and seasoned with truffle salt and truffle oil, they are served on a crystal plate with an orchid, thin-sliced truffles, and a Mornay cheese dip. The sauce, too, is infused with truffles, a rare seasonal mushroom.”
The Biden agenda
The CDC will recommend mask wearing even among the unvaccinated indoors in some cases as the delta variant surges.
- “The agency is recommending that vaccinated people who live in areas with substantial and high transmission wear masks indoors in public spaces to help prevent the spread of the delta variant, according to three people familiar with the guidance. It is also advising that vaccinated people with vulnerable individuals in their households, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces,” report Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond and Adam Taylor.
- “The agency is also recommending universal masking for all teachers, staff and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
Biden said long-term effects of the coronavirus can be considered a disability under federal civil rights laws.
- “Many Americans seemingly recovered from the virus still face lingering challenges like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain and fatigue,” Biden yesterday as he signed a proclamation commemorating the 31st anniversary of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, Wagner reports.
- “These conditions can sometimes rise to the level of a disability,” Biden said. “So we’re bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long covid, who have a disability, have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law, which includes accommodations and services.”
Biden, in pulling combat forces from Iraq, is trying to end the post-9/11 era.
- “Biden on Monday announced that the United States will wrap up its combat mission in Iraq by year’s end, his latest effort to push American diplomacy past a post-9/11 worldview and shift its focus away from terrorism and the Middle East and toward threats like China and cyberwarfare,” Anne Gearan reports.
- “The Iraq announcement came three months after Biden announced the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and just one week after he started transferring prisoners from Guantánamo Bay in hopes of eventually shutting down the prison. Taken together, the moves represent what has become a pillar of Biden’s foreign policy: ending two decades of what he sees as an outdated reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and focusing on an increasingly aggressive China, which he sees as the biggest threat to American security.”
The Biden administration will curb toxic wastewater from coal plants with a new rule.
- “The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it will set stricter requirements for how coal-fired power plants dispose of wastewater full of arsenic, lead and mercury — a major source of toxic water pollution in rivers, lakes and streams near electric generators across the country, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania,” Dino Grandoni reports. “Biden’s team is aiming to undo one of the Trump administration’s major regulatory rollbacks. Last year, the Trump EPA weakened rules forcing many coal plants to treat wastewater with modern filtration methods and other technology before it reached waterways that provide drinking water for thousands of Americans.”
Hot on the left
“The senators negotiating the infrastructure package don’t have expertise in infrastructure, and it’s showing,” writes the American Prospect’s David Dayen. “It’s through this tortuous channel that the bipartisan bill has run aground. You have a bunch of freelancers — with next to no familiarity with the infrastructure matters on which other Senate committees work — hammering out an infrastructure bill. That’s what led [Sen. Rob Portman] and even some Democrats to suggest that transit could be ‘left out’ of the bill and picked up later. That’s a classic Washington trick, to set the contentious piece aside and move forward with everything else. Except leaving transit out of an infrastructure bill makes no sense, and the idea that you can just pick it up in reconciliation is simply incorrect.”
Hot on the right
Trump endorsed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) for reelection, snubbing George P. Bush. “Paxton has been bravely on the front line in the fight for Texas, and America, against the vicious and very dangerous Radical Left Democrats, and the foolish and unsuspecting RINOs that are destroying our Country,” Trump wrote in an email, per the Dallas Morning News. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), “had been actively courting an endorsement from Trump. When he announced his bid for attorney general last month, Bush said that all his life he’s been willing to ‘chart a different course’ and offered as an example that he was the only member of his politically famous family to endorse Trump. Bush’s campaign had drink koozies picturing Bush and Trump, imprinted with: ‘This is the only Bush that likes me. This is the Bush that got it right. I like him. — Donald J. Trump.’ ”
Online, some dunked on Bush after he tried to brush away Trump’s snub:
Today in Washington
Biden will visit the office of the director of national intelligence and address the intelligence community at 2:20 p.m.
Vice President Harris will deliver virtual remarks to the National Bar Association at noon. At 4:15 p.m., she will host a conversation about voting rights with Tribal and Native leaders. She will be joined by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Skateboarding at the Olympics, visualized
In Tokyo, Olympic organizers settled on two medal events, and in each, judges are tasked with scoring skaters’ 45-second runs. Competitors will aim to showcase a combination of creativity and athleticism, similar to many other judged Olympic events, from snowboarding to gymnastics.
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team took silver after Simone Biles dropped out of the competition, saying the issue was not physical. The Russian Olympic Committee won gold. “When Simone Biles exited the arena, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team’s gold medal chances plummeted. The world’s best gymnast later returned to the sideline but she withdrew from the competition for what USA Gymnastics cited as a ‘medical issue,’ ” Emily Gimbalvo reports. “Afterward, Biles made clear the issue was not physical. ‘I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a back seat and work on my mindfulness,’ she said.
"As for whether she would compete again in Tokyo, where she is next scheduled to perform in Thursday’s all-around, Biles replied: ‘We’re going to see about Thursday. We’re going to take it a day at a time. I know tomorrow we have a little bit of a break for training, so that’ll be really nice to have a mental rest day. And then injury, no. Just my pride is hurt a little bit.’ Without Biles, the team scrambled to fill those holes in the lineup, and even though the United States had an opportunity to catch the Russian Olympic Committee heading into the final rotation, the Americans could not close the deal."