Trump’s company reports profit rose from foreign governments

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW YORK: The Trump Organisation’s profit from foreign governments rose 26% last year, the company said Monday.

Spending by foreign dignitaries, embassies and other government representatives produced US$191,538 in net income for President Donald Trump’s family business, according to Eric Trump, his son and company executive vice president.

The Trump Organisation donated an equivalent amount to the US Treasury on Feb 22 by writing a check signed by Eric Trump and his older brother, Donald Trump Jr.

It’s the second consecutive year the company has donated its profit from foreign governments to the Treasury, part of a bid to counter criticism that Trump may be violating the US Constitution’s emoluments clauses by accepting payments from foreign governments.

Last year, the Trump Organisation donated US$151,470 to the Treasury to offset profits from 2017.

“This voluntary donation fulfils our pledge to donate profits from foreign government patronage at our hotels and similar businesses during our father’s term in office,” Eric Trump said Monday in a statement.

The president placed his business holdings in a revocable trust that allows him to continue to profit from his company’s activities.

His sons Eric and Donald Jr. run the Trump Organisation.

Democrats and watchdog groups have repeatedly criticised Trump for maintaining his business while in public office.

Abandoned plans

Not all of the Trump Organisation’s ventures have thrived during Donald Trump’s divisive presidency.

The company announced this month that it was abandoning plans to start two new domestic hotel chains, blaming controversy over the president.

“We live in a climate where everything will be used against us, whether by the fake news or by Democrats who are only interested in Presidential harassment and wasting everyone’s time,” Eric Trump said in a statement at the time.

By contrast, the company’s hotel in Washington, just a short walk up Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, is thriving as a see-and-be-seen centre for Republican social activity in the nation’s capital.

Embassies for foreign governments have held receptions at the Trump International Hotel, and lobbyists representing Saudi Arabia have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars there.

Eric Trump said his family company does not “market to or solicit foreign government business. In fact, we go to great lengths to discourage foreign government patronage at our properties.”

His father is fighting lawsuits alleging that he’s violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign states and state governments in the US.

The emoluments clauses forbid a president from profiting off the White House in an effort to prevent the corruption of policymaking.

Justice Department lawyers have said Trump isn’t violating the Constitution, in part because the Trump Organisation donates the profits.

Oral arguments in one such case, initiated by the state attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, DC, are due to be heard next month by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia.

The state prosecutors have subpoenaed records from the Trump Organisation.