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Trump 41: Waiting For My Impeachment


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GreyhoundFan

Actually, I think we're all waiting for his impeachment...

Continued from here:

 

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I can find little positive to say about this country in the Trump era. No 4th of July celebration for me. Blacks were here before the mayflower and all of the whites here now came from somewhere else.

I think some of them are rich, and know that with the Rs in power, they'll keep getting richer, and they don't need any government services (they seem to forget who pays for the interstates, FDA, all

This is the ultimate irony.   

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smittykins

Although I am no fan of the Red Sox(see end of last thread), I’m glad to hear that their players of color declined to go to the White House.

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fraurosena

Another overt move towards the breakdown of the trias politica and the installation of authoritarian rule. They're not even hiding the fact that they want to get rid of Congressional oversight. 

I don't get all the prevarication about calling the current situation in America a Constitutional crisis. If this attack on both the legislative and judicial isn't it, then what is?

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GreyhoundFan

 

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GreyhoundFan

"U. S. judge voices doubt on Trump bid to block House subpoena for financial records"

Spoiler

A federal judge in Washington expressed astonishment Tuesday at arguments raised by President Trump’s lawyers seeking to block his accounting firm from turning over years of financial records to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight and Reform Committee and seemed to signal a swift ruling in favor of lawmakers.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta fired pointed questions at the president’s lawyers, who argued in an April 22 lawsuit that the committee’s sweeping subpoena to Mazars USA for the financial records of Trump and various associated entities since 2011 was not “a valid exercise of legislative power.”

Lead Trump attorney William S. Consovoy accused Democrats of “assuming the powers of the Department of Justice” on a partisan crusade, arguing, “this is about the House being dissatisfied with the president, and wanting to prove by any means possible that he has done things wrong.”

Douglas N. Letter, general counsel of the House of Representatives, replied that Trump’s claim of freedom from congressional oversight marked “a total, basic and fundamental misunderstanding” of the Constitution, saying he would pronounce Congress “a nuisance . . . getting in his way while he’s trying to run the country.”

The hearing Tuesday was the first courtroom confrontation in a wave of legal battles waged by the president to shield his personal finances from investigators, including congressional Democrats, state lawmakers and regulators. Several fights involve asking judges to weigh in on the constitutional separation of power between coequal executive and legislative branches.

Mehta, a 2014 Obama appointee, challenged some of Trump’s claims in questions to his legal team.

“Is it your position that whether the president has properly reported his finances [under federal disclosure laws], that’s not subject to investigation by Congress?” Mehta asked.

“Say a president was involved in some corrupt enterprise — you mean to tell me because he is the president of the United States, Congress would not have power to investigate?” Mehta asked, saying that what if “we’re talking about a presidential violation of a constitutional prohibition that only Congress has authority to approve,” such as the acceptance for emoluments or gifts from a foreign government.

Consovoy answered yes, say that determining whether a president properly disclosed his finances was a “pure law enforcement function,” not a matter for Congress, whose fundamental duty, he said, is writing bills.

And if Congress did seek to enact legislation, whether to tighten ethics requirements, fight public corruption or enforce a constitutional prohibition on acceptance of foreign emoluments, Consovoy said, “I don’t think there is any permutation of any of these proposals that could pass constitutional muster,” because they would interfere with the president’s execution of his duties, or add qualifications for his office.

“There’s not a single Supreme Court or appellate case since 1880 that has found Congress overstepped its legislative authority by issuing a subpoena,” Mehta said at another point.

The lawsuit in Washington was brought by Trump and several of his businesses against House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA.

Congressional Democrats accuse Trump of trying to stonewall lawmakers’ oversight until after the 2020 election, while the president’s team counters that it will not tolerate a campaign of “congressional presidential harassment.”

Mehta gave both sides until Saturday to file additional submissions and promised a ruling “promptly, consistent with the gravity of the issues” involving the balancing of powers between Congress and a president.

Mehta did not say when he would rule, but noted that a different House panel, the Financial Services Committee, is set to appear in federal court in Manhattan on May 22 to defend other subpoenas for Trump’s bank records issued to Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. Trump and his three eldest children and companies have sued to quash the subpoenas.

Mehta said at the end of Tuesday’s 80-minute hearing that he would also make clear in his opinion whether he would stay a subpoena, if he upholds it, to give the president time to appeal.

Mehta also questioned aspects of the House’s legal arguments, asking whether Congress was claiming blanket authority to investigate matters by claiming a duty to “inform the public.”

“It really does open the door to the accusation, perhaps valid or not, that this really is an effort — if not to harass the president — then to get into his private affairs for political purposes, if there is no clear line as to what this investigation is about,” Mehta said. “How do I draw lines to test, even if it’s a soft test, the validity of what you’re doing? ”

Letter said Congress’s function to “inform the public” about the president is a valid basis for the subpoena, citing investigations into the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the origins of the Iraq War and then- President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater land dealings.

But he said the House also had obvious legislative purposes to oversee the function of laws governing the financial disclosure of public officials and avoidance of conflicts of interests; the handling of presidential records; and the prevention of foreign governments holding hidden financial influence over American elected officials.

“We need to know that. We need to know, is the president of the United States beholden to foreign interests because they can hold things over his head?” Letter argued.

Pressed by Mehta to come up with some hypothetical demand by Congress that would go too far, Letter speculated, “I want to see the president’s diary when he was seven years old, or when she was 12 years old. That would probably stretch my argument to the breaking point.”

Trump sues in bid to block congressional subpoena of financial records

Cummings’s panel last month subpoenaed Mazars, seeking documents to corroborate testimony by the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who said at a congressional hearing that Trump intentionally misreported the value of his assets for personal gain.

Other House panels have requested Trump’s banking records and tax returns, while his company also faces inquiries from New York state regulators and is defending itself in two lawsuits alleging that the company violates the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments.

Mazars attorney Henry F. Schuelke has said the firm took no position on the case.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Trump Tower Is Now One of NYC’s Least-Desirable Luxury Buildings"

Spoiler

Trump Tower, once the crown jewel in Donald Trump’s property empire, now ranks as one of the least desirable luxury properties in Manhattan.

The 36-year-old building has been turned into a fortress since Trump won the presidency, ringed with concrete barriers and the two main entrances partially blocked off. It hasn’t been substantially updated in years. And Trump’s name has been a huge turnoff in liberal New York City.

For anyone who owns a unit in the tower, the past two years have been brutal. Most condo sales have led to a loss after adjusting for inflation, property records show. Several sold at more than a 20% loss. By contrast, across Manhattan, just 0.23% of homes over the past two years sold at a loss, according to real-estate data provider PropertyShark, although the firm doesn’t adjust for inflation.

It’s all a far cry from the days when the New York landmark attracted the likes of Michael Jackson, Johnny Carson and Steven Spielberg. These days, it’s better known for a Trump campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer documented in Robert Mueller’s Russia report.

While some corners of Trump’s business empire have thrived, such as his Washington D.C. hotel, others have suffered from his high unpopularity. Rounds of golf are down at his public course in New York, a clutch of once Trump-branded buildings have torn his name off their fronts, and an ambitious plan to launch a new mid-tier hotel chain across the country fizzled.

Trump is scheduled to provide an updated snapshot of his net worth this week, with his annual financial disclosures due Wednesday. The documents won’t go into detail about the Trump Organization’s revenues, but it’s clear that Trump Tower is suffering, based on securities filings, property records, real estate listings, and interviews with industry insiders.

The commercial portion of the building has been struggling for months to find tenants for more than 42,000 square feet of vacant office space, despite advertising rents well below the area’s average, listings and data from real estate brokers show.

On any given midweek afternoon, the number of government and Trump Organization security personnel rivaled the number of other people inside the building’s atrium.

Occupancy Rate Plunged

Trump Tower’s occupancy rate has plunged over the last seven years to 83% from 99%, giving it a vacancy rate that’s about twice Manhattan’s average.

"If I were looking for office space, that would be a building I’d want to avoid," said Edward Son, until recently a market analyst for CoStar Group Inc.

Net income slightly rose last year, boosted by the tenancy of his 2020 campaign committee, which has spent more than $890,000 over the last two years to rent space in Trump Tower, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The building’s net income is still about 26% lower than what bankers expected when they evaluated Trump’s fitness for a $100 million loan in 2012. Even so, Trump Tower regularly produces an annual profit for its namesake. Last year, the building generated $10 million in net cash flow, after taking into account its annual $4.3 million interest payment on the loan, according to Trump Organization disclosures.

The Trump Organization didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Condo owners hoping to run into the president on occasion have been disappointed. While Trump ran his presidential campaign out of the high-rise, he’s only visited 13 times since his inauguration, according to a count from NBC News.

Name ‘Became a Problem’

Michael Sklar sold his parents’ 57th floor unit for $1.83 million in October after they spent $400,000 to remodel the property. His family purchased it for $1.4 million in 2004, which comes out to $1.84 million after adjusting for inflation.

“No one wants in that building,” Sklar said.

After Trump’s election, living in his tower became a hassle, Sklar said. His mother, who was battling cancer, took cabs to the building from the airport, and she used to be dropped off right in front of the entrance. After the election, security would force her cab driver to drop her off a few hundred feet from the front door, requiring a long and painful walk home.

“The name on the building became a problem,” Sklar said.

At least 13 condos in the tower have sold since Trump’s 2016 election, property records show. For the nine transactions where New York City records show what the seller originally paid for the property, eight sold at an inflation-adjusted loss.

By contrast, just 57 homes in Manhattan sold over the past two years at a loss, out of 24,871 third-party sales, according to PropertyShark, although the firm doesn’t adjust for inflation.

“The luxury market is softening,” said Matthew D. Hughes, a Manhattan-based broker at Brown Harris Stevens. “But it’s rare that someone owns an apartment here for 10 years and takes a loss.”

One New York real estate agent, who didn’t want to be identified discussing Trump, said that clients have repeatedly told him not to show them units in Trump buildings.

These days, gawkers sometimes outnumber the customers of the building’s remaining retail stores.

60-Foot Waterfall

"It’s totally a tourist trap," said Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive who oversaw the building’s construction.

Res remembers the building fondly, and said that when it was built Trump recruited celebrities to purchase its condos and prominent brands to fill its retail space. "It’s dated but it’s a building worthy of respect," Res said.

Located just two blocks from Central Park, Trump built his namesake tower in 1983, complete with a 60-foot waterfall and mounds of pink Italian marble.

Advertised as having 68 stories -- it’s actually 58, city records show -- the building was ahead of its time, Trump’s lawyer, George Ross, wrote in his 2005 book, Trump Strategies for Real Estate. "He single-handedly created the market for high-end luxury residences in New York City," Ross wrote.

The Apprentice, Trump’s reality show on NBC, was filmed in Trump Tower. Its launch in 2004 gave the building a new prominence and helped Trump revive his personal and corporate brands. In 2013 Trump pegged the value of his brand at $4 billion, according to unaudited statements of financial condition provided by his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

By most measures, Trump Tower should be doing well these days. It’s in a part of Manhattan known as the Plaza District, named after the Plaza Hotel right off Central Park, that many real estate experts consider to be the nation’s premier office area. Offices with views of Central Park easily fetch more than $100 per square foot, said Craig Leibowitz, New York research director for JLL.

The office portion of Trump Tower is advertising five vacancies spread across five floors. In January, prices for the open space ranged from $72 to $85 per square foot annually. A month earlier, the Trump Organization posted to its YouTube channel a glossy marketing video that referred to the tower as “one of New York’s most iconic trophy buildings.”

Now the prices are listed as negotiable.

A commercial real estate broker said that his firm’s surveys show that prospective tenants won’t consider a Trump building until he’s out of office.

One of the building’s other problems is that Trump hasn’t spent much money updating the tower in recent years, according to disclosures to investors.

“I don’t think I would want an office in Trump Tower,” Res said. “Why would you go there? It’s a wonder he doesn’t have 50% vacancy.”

 

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Dandruff

It'll be interesting to see how his properties do after he's out of office.  Less security, but also less incentive for people to send money in his direction.

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fraurosena
13 hours ago, Dandruff said:

It'll be interesting to see how his properties do after he's out of office.  Less security, but also less incentive for people to send money in his direction.

If there are any properties left to his name by then. It's a real possibility that most, if not all, of his possessions will be confiscated by the justice department after he's been indicted for all of his (and his family's) criminal activities. 

After that, if there is any building left with his name on it, it could become a tourist attraction, with people having a gander at the garishness of the property of the most infamous person that ever took possession of the White House.

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GreyhoundFan

"Trump’s prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company documents, showing his business problems are mounting"

Spoiler

Late last year, in a Miami conference room, a consultant for President Trump’s company said business at his prized 643-room Doral resort was in sharp decline.

At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income — a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent.

Even in a vigorous economy, the property was missing the Trump Organization’s internal business targets; for instance, the club expected to take in $85 million in revenue in 2017 but took in just $75 million.

“They are severely underperforming” other resorts in the area, tax consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak told a Miami-Dade County official in a bid to lower the property’s tax bill. The reason, she said: “There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”

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Trump has entwined his office with his private company, drawing scrutiny from congressional Democrats interested in whether his company is benefiting from that relationship. At the same time, revenue has declined at some properties dependent on blue-state customers and politics-shy national brands.

The troubles at Trump Doral — detailed here for the first time, based on documents and video obtained under Florida’s public-records law — suggest the Trump Organization’s problems are bigger than previously known. This is also the first known case in which a Trump Organization representative has publicly acknowledged the president’s name has hurt business.

The decline at Doral is especially significant because the resort had seemed better insulated from political backlash than other Trump properties, protected by its place in golf’s history, by its recent renovations, and by its location in a booming state that Trump won in 2016.

It wasn’t.

“Profitability is down across the board,” Michael Bellisario, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., said after reviewing at the request of The Washington Post the data that Trump provided Miami-Dade County.

The documents included detailed breakdowns of the Trump resort’s income streams, expenses and projections, as well as comparisons between Trump Doral and its competitors in the area.

“It’s clearly underperforming their expectations,” Bellisario said, though it remains profitable, in part because it has reduced expenses at the same time.

Eric Trump — the president’s son who runs the business day-to-day — rejected the idea that the Trump brand is damaged. “This story is completely senseless,” he said in a statement. “Our iconic properties are the best in the world and our portfolio is unrivaled by anyone.”

To explain the declines at Doral, the Trump Organization issued a statement to The Washington Post that implicitly contradicted its own tax consultant and blamed factors that had nothing to do with Trump’s name. The company cited fears of the Zika virus in 2016, and hurricanes in 2016 and 2017, for driving tourists away from South Florida.

But the statistics provided by the company’s consultants to Miami-Dade County — which are legally required to be accurate — showed competing resorts in the same region of Florida still outperformed the Trump resort in the key metrics of room occupancy and average room rate.

The data provided to the county ends in 2017. In a statement, the Trump Organization said 2018 “was a remarkable year for [Doral] and 2019 is off to an unbelievable start,” but it did not provide figures for revenue, occupancy or room rates in those years.

The Trump Organization is private and declined to provide details about its overall profits and losses. The company is not showing signs of broad financial distress — nothing like in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Trump’s real estate empire faltered and he fell deeply in debt.

To assess the Trump Organization’s financial health, The Post has gathered data on individual Trump businesses through public records, internal company data and interviews with current and former Trump employees.

In some places, the news is good.

For instance, Trump owns a 30 percent share of two office buildings — one in New York and one in San Francisco — that earn him tens of millions in rent per year, according to estimates by real estate experts. Their values have shot up since 2015. Neither one bears the Trump name.

But in many other places, the Trump presidency seems to have brought bad news for the Trump Organization.

What began with the Macy’s department store chain dropping Trump-branded neckties during the campaign and New York City building owners stripping his name from their properties has led to a shrinking of Trump’s customer base among a wide swath of businesses, charities, wealthy travelers and golfers to a more narrow pool of clients who are aligned with his politics.

“Being president has cost me a fortune — a tremendous fortune like you’ve never seen before,” Trump told reporters last year, rejecting the idea that he was using the presidency to enrich himself. Trump still owns his business, though he says he has given up day-to-day control.

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By the end of 2018, the Trump hotel chain had lost three locations as building owners cut ties with the Trump company. The company’s plans for dozens of new low-cost hotels — aimed at turning Trump voters into Trump customers — had fizzled.

Revenue fell at other Trump hotels, in Chicago and New York, after Trump entered the presidential race, according to internal documents.

In a statement about its Chicago property, the Trump Organization said the name was not the reason. “It’s sad to say, but the perceived threat of gun violence has harmed visitation to the destination,” the statement said.

But the company’s own figures — submitted to Cook County, Ill., for tax purposes, and also given to Trump’s investors — show Trump’s competitors in Chicago have not experienced the same decline. The company said its New York hotel rebounded last year, charging record-high room rates.

“Among the hotel community in Chicago, everyone is aware of the relative underperformance of the Trump hotel over the last two to three years,” said Bellisario, the hotel-industry analyst, who is based in Chicago.

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In some of Trump’s properties, his political allies have rushed in as others rushed out.

Republican groups have spent $4.5 million at Trump properties to hold fundraisers and retreats, according to campaign finance reports. Other right-leaning groups have become consistent customers at Trump’s D.C. hotel and Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.

But until now, Doral’s condition remained largely unknown outside the Trump Organization.

Last year, Eric Trump said it was succeeding.

“The Doral is on fire,” he told a reporter in June.

The 57-year-old, 650-acre resort is set among business parks and homes in an inland area near the Miami airport. Trump bought it in 2012 for a reported $150 million. He borrowed $125 million from Deutsche Bank and planned $250 million in renovations. He vowed on Twitter that “within two years it will be the best resort in the country.”

Its appeal was grounded in Florida weather and golf history: The legendary “Blue Monster” course had hosted a prominent PGA Tour event for more than 50 years running.

In 2013, Trump caught a huge break: Tiger Woods won the Doral tournament on national television. Now, Trump would welcome tourists who wanted to play where Tiger did.

Around the same time, the renovations were finished. The completely revamped resort would feature cuisine and events designed to attract visitors from Latin America — a key clientele in the summer months, when it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

“The amount of Brazilians and Colombians and Venezuelans and Argentines that are coming into the United States to play great golf courses, it’s amazing,” Eric Trump told Golf TV in February 2014. “And you really capitalize on this.”

Then, in 2015, Trump launched his presidential campaign, calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists.

In 2016, Cadillac — the main sponsor of Doral’s big tournament — pulled out.

“The problem that the tour had was that we couldn’t find a replacement for Cadillac. So we had to move the tournament,” Butch Buchholz, who served as chairman of the golf tournament, called the World Golf Championships, said in an interview this year. “If they could have found a sponsor, they would — I believe — still be playing there.”

They didn’t find another sponsor. The tournament moved to Mexico.

One former employee at Doral familiar with the club’s marketing said the loss of the tournament brought the club’s appeal down a notch.

“Now, you’ve lost a little bit of that luster off the Blue Monster,” said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve relationships in the resort business.

On one recent weekday in Miami, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa — a top competitor of Doral’s — was bustling with families eating dinner and children playing in the pool.

A few miles away, Trump’s Doral was shining, spotless and heavily branded. The Trump name was on chocolate bars ($5) and shot glasses ($10), and even on the paper inserts at the bottom of the bathroom wastebaskets.

But it was also much quieter.

Carl Goldstein — a retired butcher, visiting as part of a Passover tour group — had the lobby almost to himself.

“He has a few good policies, but I don’t like the things he says. I don’t like the way he talks,” Goldstein said of Trump. Still, he said, he didn’t mind staying at Trump’s hotel.

According to the financial data Trump’s company submitted to Miami-Dade County, the resort’s decline in customers began in 2016.

Overall, from 2015 to 2017, the club’s revenue fell from $92 million to $75 million — an 18 percent drop.

Vachiratevanurak, the Trump Organization representative, showed the magistrate how the resort’s occupancy rate was 53 percent in 2017, compared with 77 percent for competing resorts in the area, even though the company had reduced rates dramatically to encourage guests to book rooms. Doral was getting an average of $200 a room per night, while competitors were getting $249.

Reached by phone, Vachiratevanurak declined to comment for this story.

Though the resort is still profitable, its net operating income shrank from $13.8 million to $4.3 million during that period, the documents show.

The effort worked: After Vachiratevanurak’s presentation, the magistrate lowered the assessed value from $110.3 million to $105.6 million. The change lowered Trump’s annual tax bills by about $80,000.

 

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GreyhoundFan

Because of course he did: "Trump pardons billionaire friend Conrad Black, who wrote a book about him"

Spoiler

President Trump gave a full pardon to a longtime friend who last year wrote a glowing book about Trump’s successes.

Conrad Black was convicted in 2007 on fraud charges, including alleged embezzlement, and obstruction of justice. He served more than three years in prison and was deported to his native Canada after he was released in 2012. He was barred from returning to the United States for 30 years.

The White House said in a statement that Black was “entirely deserving” of the pardon. In listing Black’s accomplishments, it mentions biographies Black wrote about presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, but not his tome on Trump.

On the first page of that book, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” Black writes: “Like the country he represents, Donald Trump possesses the optimism to persevere and succeed, the confidence to affront tradition and convention, a genius for spectacle, and a firm belief in common sense and the common man.”

Black, whose media company owned the Chicago Sun Times, at one time partnered with Trump to build Trump Tower in Chicago, but Trump later bought him out.

Black denied at the end of last year that he was trying to get a pardon from Trump.

“You are correct that no pardon has been applied for, and I have no comment on the subject,” Black told a Canadian news outlet. “The public speculation about it that I have seen is bunk.”

In its statement, the White House offered a list of household names who have vouched for Black’s character, including Henry Kissinger, Elton John and Rush Limbaugh.

In addition to his book, Black frequently writes columns praising Trump and considers the president a friend.

Trump was quoted in a 2004 Vanity Fair article about Black’s legal troubles, predicting Black would bounce back.

“In 1990 or 1991, when I owed billions of dollars, some people shied away from me,” Trump said. “And now everyone is kissing my a-- and begging me to sit at their right-hand side at the table. Conrad is a tremendously strong man who will overcome these obstacles in the end. He will prevail.”

Trump also fully pardoned Patrick Nolan, a former Republican state legislative leader who pleaded guilty to public corruption charges in 1994 and served nearly three years in prison.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Revenue at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago dropped 10 percent in 2018, new federal disclosures show, part of a mixed overall picture of the president’s finances"

Spoiler

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club saw revenue drop 10 percent in 2018, its first full year after Trump’s political rhetoric drove away many of the national charities that once rented its ballrooms, according to Trump’s new personal financial disclosures.

The disclosures, released Thursday afternoon, revealed details about income and land sales for more than 20 parts of Trump’s real estate and hospitality business. The disclosure covered all of calendar year 2018.

The overall result was mixed. Revenue increased modestly at several places that Trump visits: at his hotel in downtown Washington, it increased 1 percent over 2017. Revenue increased at both his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, where Trump spends summer weekends, and at his golf club in Northern Virginia, where Trump has played rounds with members of Congress and foreign leaders.

But at places where Trump rarely goes — which can’t offer customers the chance to mingle with a president — there were declines. Revenue fell at eight of Trump’s 12 U.S. golf courses.

At Trump’s Doral resort — a linchpin of his finances, which produces more revenue for him than any other hotel — the documents showed that a sharp decline in revenue stopped in 2018.

But it stayed around the same low level, rising just 1.6 percent over 2017.

At Trump’s Chicago hotel, revenue was down 5 percent, continuing a long slide that began in 2016. Trump’s company has blamed the decline on tourists’ fears of gun violence in Chicago, though other Chicago luxury hotels have thrived in the same time.

In a statement earlier this week, Eric Trump — the president’s son, who is running the Trump Organization day-to-day — said that his company had a great year.

“Our company had an exceptional 2018,” Trump said in the statement. “Our iconic hotels, golf courses, commercial buildings, residential projects and other assets are the best in the world and unrivaled by anyone.” The company noted that its overall golf revenue increased from 2017 to 2018, largely driven by increases at its golf courses in Scotland and Ireland. Those British Isles courses have lost money in past years: the Trump disclosures don’t say if they actually turned a profit in 2018.

Trump’s financial disclosures don’t list the exact values of any of his assets, and they depict the income from many of his assets only as a broad range. They also seem to show only revenue, not the profit left over after expenses are paid.

So it is impossible, from this document alone, to say if Trump’s total income rose or fell from 2017 to 2018. Or to say if his company made money, or lost it.

The documents included some references to Trump businesses that have faded. The remains of Trump University produced no money at all, and Trump’s one-time modeling agency produced a paltry $547 in residual income.

They also showed that a new effort to sell Trump-branded products over the Internet — reaching Trump voters who might never visit a Trump property — has paid off. The income from that Trump Store online outlet increased from $107,000 to $520,000 in a year.

The documents also show that the Trump Organization sold off some of its non-core properties last year, including warehouses in South Carolina, housing developments in outer boroughs of New York, and land in the Dominican Republic. Those sales brought in more than $20 million.

 

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Cleopatra7
On 5/14/2019 at 8:51 PM, Dandruff said:

It'll be interesting to see how his properties do after he's out of office.  Less security, but also less incentive for people to send money in his direction.

As an ex president, I’m sure Trump would have Secret Service protection for life, at least at the places where he’s physically present at the time.

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Jana814
2 hours ago, Cleopatra7 said:

As an ex president, I’m sure Trump would have Secret Service protection for life, at least at the places where he’s physically present at the time.

Yes he will. I think even his kids will. All the Bush children still have protection. 

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GreyhoundFan

"Trump wants his border barrier to be painted black with spikes. He has other ideas, too."

Spoiler

The barrier that President Trump wants to build along the Mexico border will be a steel bollard fence, not a concrete wall as he long promised, and the president is fine with that. He has a few other things he would like to change, though.

The bollards, or “slats,” as he prefers to call them, should be painted “flat black,” a dark hue that would absorb heat in the summer, making the metal too hot for climbers to scale, Trump has recently told White House aides, Homeland Security officials and military engineers.

And the tips of the bollards should be pointed, not round, the president insists, describing in graphic terms the potential injuries that border-crossers might receive. Trump has said the wall’s current blueprints include too many gates — placed at periodic intervals to allow vehicles and people through — and he wants the openings to be smaller.

At a moment when the White House is diverting billions of dollars in military funds to fast-track construction, the president is micromanaging the project down to the smallest design details. But Trump’s frequently shifting instructions and suggestions have left engineers and aides confused, according to current and former administration officials.

Trump has demanded Department of Homeland Security officials come to the White House on short notice to discuss wall construction and on several occasions woke former secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss the project in the early morning, officials said.

Trump also has repeatedly summoned the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, to impart his views on the barrier’s properties, demanding that the structure be physically imposing but also aesthetically pleasing.

“He thinks it’s ugly,” said one administration official familiar with Trump’s opinions, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being fired.

The president sees himself as “a builder,” said David Lapan, a former Homeland Security official who worked at the department when it spent more than $3 million on the construction of eight border barrier prototypes near San Diego.

“But building high-rises in New York City is not the same as putting up a barrier at the border,” said Lapan, now at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “You’re not looking for aesthetics; you’re looking for functionality.”

Homeland Security officials had settled on the steel bollard design many years earlier, but Lapan said many of the prototypes were built using concrete to suit the president’s tastes — and demonstrated that the material was impractical and vulnerable to breaches.

Homeland Security officials declined to comment on the president’s design requests for the barriers and about his conversations with engineers and border officials. An Army Corps spokesman confirmed that Semonite has met several times with Trump, but referred inquiries to the White House.

The president — who repeatedly promised to force Mexico to pay for his desired border wall — has pledged to build 400 miles of new barriers by next year, a goal he reiterated during an immigration speech at the White House on Thursday afternoon. The plan probablywould require him to reprogram additional taxpayer funds from military budgets.

Trump’s changing tastes are potentially driving up the price. He remains adamant that the barrier should be painted black, despite warnings that it would significantly increase construction costs and maintenance budgets.

“Once you paint it, you always have to paint it,” said another administration official.

Trump also has changed his mind repeatedly about the structure’s height, urging engineers to make it as tall as possible, though his desires have been tempered by cost concerns and engineers’ worries about structural integrity.

The president’s critics are determined to stop or slow down a project they denounce as a wasteful monument to the president’s vanity — more symbolic than security-minded along a border that cannot be completely walled off because of rugged geography and the Rio Grande.

In the compromise deal to end the government shutdown in February, Democrats agreed to provide $1.4 billion for the border barriers, far less than the $5 billion Trump sought. Democrats also inserted language limiting the expenditure to “operationally effective designs” that U.S. Customs and Border Protection already uses.

With the White House using an emergency declaration to get an additional $2.5 billion in funds diverted from military budgets, Trump will face no such congressional scrutiny, potentially giving him more latitude to tailor the structure.

Before her removal from DHS last month, Nielsen had “very specific meetings” on the wall project, another administration official said. She thought the president’s acute interest in the barrier’s appearance became a distraction from more pressing border issues, the official said. Nielsen did not respond to a request for comment.

On the 2016 campaign trail, the president told crowds of chanting supporters he wanted the wall to be big and “beautiful,” and those two qualities continue to drive his requests.

“He thinks not only can the wall be effective, it doesn’t have to be an eyesore,” a DHS official said. “He wants one standard uniform height. That’s what he’s going for, and we have to match that with operational reality.”

The steel bollards remain vulnerable to sawing, but Homeland Security contractors have filled the hollow cavity of the metal with an undisclosed compound to make them more difficult to cut. The material is poured to a certain height — which officials declined to specify, citing security reasons — and ordinary concrete, which is cheaper, is added after that.

One official called the saw-resistant compound a “secret sauce” in the bollards, declining to provide more detail. 

Trump often brought up the construction of the barrier at unrelated meetings, and aides learned to bring prep books — and even sketches — to address his questions. He often grew frustrated when he would learn that more of the barrier was not built, the current and former officials said. 

He continued to insist on speeding up construction, blanching at suggestions from aides that it would take many years, according to former administration officials. Trump frequently delved into the minutiae of contracts and suggested that some of his friends in New York would have ideas on how to build it faster, officials said.

At periodic meetings to update the president on construction progress, sometimes held more than once a month, Trump has asked questions about how border-crossers might be able to “cut a hole in it, dig under it, climb over it,” in the words of a meeting attendee.

Some of the president’s requests have led to significant alterations in the design. In particular, he insisted on boosting the height of the structure to 30 feet, far taller than the 15- to 18-foot range that CBP officials had previously settled on as optimal.

The advantages of the 30-foot design were made apparent after the administration paid for the of series prototypes, another former official said.

“We were able to test what happens when you put someone up that high. They freeze up,” the former official said. “There was significant deterrence value to putting people on a 30-foot wall.” 

Said another official familiar with the president’s desires: “He always wanted to go higher.”

Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive, said Trump would get closely involved in design aspects of his hotels, resorts and other development projects. “If it was very visible, he got very involved,” she said.

Res said the president cared deeply, for example, about the kind of marble and brass in Trump Tower, as well as the kinds of floors in the apartments and the kitchen finishes — details that Res characterized as “trivial.”

But for a massive Homeland Security project, she said: “Who cares what color a wall is?”

One design Trump panned, according to a former official, was topped by a rounded, barrel-like metal cylinder to prevent climbing. Approved barrier designs include a flat-panel anti-climbing surface that has been field-tested, but the president doesn’t like the way it looks either, arguing that sharp spikes would appear more intimidating.

Trump told one group of aides that the metal points would cut the hands of climbers and function as a more effective deterrent.

What a sick person to be so gleeful about attempting to injure other humans.

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Dandruff
4 hours ago, Cleopatra7 said:

As an ex president, I’m sure Trump would have Secret Service protection for life, at least at the places where he’s physically present at the time.

I was referring to security around some of his buildings, which cause other people who live there great inconvenience getting in and out.  Once there's a lesser need for that type of security I think people might be more inclined to live there (improving Trump's income).  OTOH, I think people, in general will have less incentive to deal with Trump and his stuff once he's out of office (so less Trump income).

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Audrey2

Had to learn how to take a screenshot on my phone just so I could capture this little gem:

Hmmm.... I think I'll channel @Destiny- Fornicate you! That's as close to Happy Birthday as I can get.

 

Screenshot_20190516-204307.png

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fraurosena
14 hours ago, Cleopatra7 said:

I’m sure Trump would have Secret Service protection for life

Oh, he'll be protected all right. Just not by the Secret Service. Prison officers will suffice in his case.

As soon as Trump leaves office, he will be indicted, prosecuted and incarcerated for the rest of his natural life.

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fraurosena

I think the presidunce has found out about the federal judge demanding prosecutors make Michael Flynn's testimony to Mueller public. So yeah, time to deflect, and accuse others of the crime you committed yourself.

 

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fraurosena

The attack on the FBI continues. Don't be surprised if this intensifies in the coming hours. Things are heating up and he's more frightened than ever. 

Don't be surprised either if war with Iran will be started this week. The need for distractions is acute and profound.

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fraurosena

Oh for fuck's sake! Not again with the emails... :pb_rollseyes:

How desperate must you be to deflect and distract when you need to dig up this ancient accusation that has been investigated to death and disproven each and every single time? 

Also, how exactly does one acid wash an email? 

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fraurosena

So, are they gearing up for war with Iran, or not?

 

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fraurosena

I distinctly remember you fired Sally Yates the day after she warned you about Flynn being compromised. And then kept him in office for more than two weeks after. 

 

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GreyhoundFan

"A Trump trip to his Irish golf course could create an unusual diplomatic dilemma"

Spoiler

President Trump had been expected to visit Ireland next month, part of a tour of Europe that would also include stops in Britain and France. It would be Trump’s first visit to Ireland since becoming president, making up for a planned visit last year that was abruptly canceled.

But a stop in Ireland may be in doubt once again amid a complicated diplomatic dispute centered around the business interests of the Trump family — specifically, a luxury golf course near the village of Doonbeg, County Clare, owned by the U.S. president.

Irish media outlets reported this week that the president was planning to visit the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Doonbeg, formerly known as Doonbeg Golf Club, on June 5 after a state visit to Britain. The president would return to Doonbeg on June 7 and 8, after a stop in France for the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The Irish Times reported Thursday, however, that Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was reluctant to meet Trump at his privately owned golf course. Varadkar was reported to be in favor of meeting at another location, such as Dromoland Castle Hotel, which is approximately 30 miles from Doonbeg.

The newspaper reported that if Varadkar refuses to meet Trump at his Doonbeg resort, the president is considering canceling his visit to Ireland and instead visiting a different golf course in Scotland as an alternative.

The White House has yet to publicly confirm Trump’s trip to Ireland, and it did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nick Miller, a press secretary for Varadkar, declined to offer more information when contacted Friday and said that any announcements about the trip would come from the White House.

Trump had indicated a desire to travel to Ireland and he would be welcome, Miller said, but “as of now we don’t have any particular indication when or whether the president would be visiting” that could be shared.

Evan Butler, director of sales and marketing at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Doonbeg, said that the resort had “no confirmation on President Trump’s Visit to Ireland as of yet.”

Though it is not a formal state visit, the possible trip raises protocol questions about whether the U.S. leader needs to meet with a head of state or government when visiting his private property in another country.

A trip to Doonbeg may also reignite criticism that the president may be using travel to raise publicity for his privately owned properties, some of which are ailing financially.

Trump bought the Doonbeg course, in a rural area on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, in 2014 for $11 million. Since then, he has put about $30 million into the course without taking out any loans. Trump says the cash is all his, an unusually risky strategy that he employed at a number of other golf clubs in the decade before he ran for president.

Trump has never turned a profit at Doonbeg, according to filings with the Irish government for the years 2014-2017.

His most recent U.S. financial disclosure forms, covering the year 2018, show that Doonbeg’s revenue increased slightly, up about 2 percent from $14.2 million to $14.5 million. But those forms do not say whether the Doonbeg club turned a profit in that year.

Trump is now seeking approval from Irish regulators for two separate proposals at the club. One — for a rock sea wall intended to hold back coastal erosion — has been the subject of a years-long fight with environmentalists who believe the wall would destroy a rare set of dunes nearby.

It is now pending before the Irish national planning review board: The board’s website says a decision was expected by October 2018, but it has not come yet. The other proposal is for an expansion of the club’s hotel, to include more than 50 new rental cottages and a large ballroom for events. It is awaiting approval from local officials.

Twice before, Trump has used foreign trips to visit his own private businesses — but in both cases, he treated those visits as personal trips, and didn’t use either property for official meetings with foreign leaders. In November 2017, while stopping in Hawaii on his way to Asia, Trump made a very brief visit to the Trump-branded hotel on Waikiki Beach. Trump stayed just minutes at the hotel, according to pool reports.

“The president stopped by the Trump hotel on his way to the airport. It has been a tremendously successful project and he wanted to say hello and thank you to the employees for all their hard work,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said then.

Last year, Trump also visited his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, on a weekend between an official visit to Britain and a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. That visit was treated as a personal retreat for Trump, not a working presidential trip. Aides said Trump planned to study his briefing books before meeting Putin, but Trump also played golf.

Trump had already visited London during that trip, where he had met with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

If a planned trip to Ireland were to be canceled, it would be the second time Trump had scratched a stop there. A previous trip, scheduled for November, had been canceled the month before. “The U.S. side has cited scheduling reasons,” Laura Durkan, a spokeswoman for the taoiseach, told The Washington Post at the time.

Trump is a controversial figure in Ireland, and there had been speculation that he canceled last year’s trip because of planned protests. In an interview in March as he visited Washington, Varadkar said that he did not think that Trump would have canceled due to the risk of protest and that there were some areas where the Trump administration had been helpful to Ireland.

“He does own a business in Ireland, too, which we shouldn’t forget,” the Irish leader said.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Trump’s D.C. hotel has raked in cash — and only at the cost of America’s dignity"

Spoiler

BEFORE DONALD TRUMP became president, when he was just a famous real estate developer, he made a risky bet: He proposed spending $200 million renovating the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, transforming a dilapidated property known for a low-rent food court into a luxury hotel. The bet would pay off only if guests were willing to pay sky-high rates and the hotel saw brisk spa and events business.

If the president’s financial disclosure forms are any indication, the gamble worked for Mr. Trump — but at the price of the country’s dignity.

Mr. Trump on Thursday released his latest required financial disclosure forms. They show that the Trump International Hotel produced $41 million in revenue, which, according to CNN, brings to more than $80 million the total amount he has made from the property during his presidency. The hotel accounted for almost a tenth of his company’s revenue last year.

High demand on the part of Republicans, lobbyists and foreign governments helps explain the hotel’s success. T-Mobile executives spent nearly $200,000 there as they sought approval for a merger with Sprint. A variety of foreign countries have held events at Trump International. The Trump Organization says it donates all the profits it makes from foreign governments. But the president, who has refused to divest from his company, undoubtedly still benefits from high, price-driving demand at his landmark property, not to mention the profits domestic lobbyists produce. For those seeking to influence the Trump administration, padding the president’s wallet with conspicuous spending at his hotel must seem like a viable strategy.

The story of the president’s conflict of interest at Trump International gets worse when one factors in that his administration killed a plan to move the FBI out of Washington and redevelop the agency’s crumbling headquarters, which is near the Old Post Office, after Mr. Trump inserted himself into the discussions. This decision may saddle the FBI with an inadequate headquarters for the foreseeable future. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, avoids possible competition. Once again, it looks as though the president’s personal interests and the country’s diverged.

The Trump International Hotel is just one business venture of many in which the president has a stake. With his company privately held and Mr. Trump refusing to release any more than what is legally required about his finances, the public can only guess at the other conflicts of interest that might affect his thinking. Mr. Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns, as every president in recent memory has done voluntarily. As he gears up for 2020, he is arguing that his tax forms do not matter. But, as the story of the Old Post Office indicates, they do.

I used to love to go to the Old Post Office Pavilion, which is now the site for Dumpy's DC hotel. It makes me so sad that such a historic site is now forever tarnished.

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Dandruff
1 hour ago, GreyhoundFan said:

It makes me so sad that such a historic site is now forever tarnished.

I feel that way about the White House.

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