It’s how Trump has done business the past couple of decades. After six bankruptcies, Trump did learn a new trick and started selling his name and not trying to run a profitable business. Trump doesn’t really own many of the properties with his name on them. In 2015, his name was on seventeen properties in New York of which he owned only five. At present, the number of buildings in New York with his name has dwindled to eleven, as the six“Trump Place” properties elected to have the Trump name removed. The Trump Organization continues to manage the properties. A typical deal involves Trump licensing his name which once attracted buyers/renters for a fee while also being paid for management duties.
Trump’s new business model allowed him to eliminate risk while raking in a percentage, whether the venture succeeds or fails. When The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City filed for bankruptcy in 2014. It was the owner Roger Khafif that took the hit, even though it was the mismanagement by Trump Panama Condominium Management LLC. that helped run the property aground, approving $2.2 million in unauthorized debts, and approving undisclosed bonuses to its executives.
Trump had found a way to make money he couldn’t possibly screw up. Until he brought the same tactics to his campaign and ultimately to the White House. The first clue should have been when Paul Manafort volunteered to work with the Trump campaign for free. At the time, Manafort was being sued by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska for an allegedly misspent $19 million and had reportedly received an additional loan for $26 million. In all, Manafort was on the hook for up to $60 million dollars. How was he in any position to work in a highly visible position for free when people with ties to the Russian mob were trying to collect from him.
The answer, which was part of a now obvious pattern is that Manafort provided services to Trump, and was allowed to run free with his own side deals, using access to Trump to make money. Among the first things he did was provide information to Deripaska about internal Trump polling data and get Trump to change the Republican Platform in a manner favorable to Russia.
That change to the RNC platform didn’t go unnoticed but Trump and Manafort were able to stonewall efforts to pin down the story and it got lost in a sea of Trump scandals. One might think Trump would be wary of selling his name and position after that but apparently he was just getting started.
At the time of Scott Pruitt’s resignation as the EPA head, he was facing eleven investigations including his relationships with lobbyists which included a highly favorable housing arrangement while in D.C. Pruitt used his White House expense account to fly first class and use private planes. He had a woman on the payroll as an advisor that apparently rarely came to work. It was all good as long as Trump got his wishes which included gutting regulations that were protecting the environment.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry recently resigned as Energy Secretary (a department he couldn’t remember in a televised debate when running for President). It seems he took advantage of his role as one of the “Three Amigos” advancing Trump’s Ukranian policy to hook up his friends with a huge energy contract. Those friends were loyal Perry campaign donors and I consider it likely Perry would ultimately be rewarded for the favor.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guiliani was apparently working his own side deals while allegedly doing the country’s bidding. He was paid $500,000 by recently-arrested Lev Parnas; a Ukranian-American businessman that was allegedly working for Rudy, digging up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine. Who pays someone else half-a-million bucks to go work for them?
Recently released documents show Rudy was negotiating a contract with former Ukranian prosecutor Yuriy Letsenko with whom he was working to dig up Biden dirt. Their negotiations got as far as a deal memo which Guiliani signed for $300,000. Trump is suddenly “unaware” of what Rudy was doing in Ukraine. Weeks ago Rudy said Trump was his “only client,” while Trump claims Rudy has lots of other clients than himself. One of them is lying.
Extend the pattern of grifters throughout the Trump administration. Take Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross whose net worth is over $700 million. He’s was sued by and later settled with former business partner David Storper who alleged Ross ripped him off for millions. Ross was Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus when he oversaw a Russian deal for which the bank was found to have laundered hundreds of millions of Russian money and was also Paul Manafort’s bank at the time. Birds of a feather. Throw in Jared Kushner and wife Ivanka who made $80 million last year while “volunteering” at the White House and it’s all so clear.
Government service is supposed to be honorable; serve your country for a few years at a government pay scale and perhaps you go on to make real money afterward. Trump and associates couldn’t wait that long. Everyone has a side hustle and is using Donald Trump’s name as collateral. The worst part is that many people within his own party know, but simply don’t care. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ever pressed the issue, someone might start looking at the millions in gifts he’s received from his father-in-law who owns a Chinese shipping firm? Selling access and favors is a great job if you can get it.