President Donald Trump’s domestic businesses — his golf courses, hotels, even his ice rink in Central Park — have hemorrhaged money during his term, while his income from foreign projects in countries like India, Canada and Uruguay soared.
The pattern is sounding alarm bells with both ethics experts and political observers who see the falling domestic revenue as a sign of Trump’s increasing unpopularity ahead of an election year.
Trump’s income from his Washington hotel, where foreign dignitaries are known to set up shop in order to curry favor with the famously transactional president, has also spiked, raising red flags for his opponents and government watchdogs who allege his business arrangement violates the Constitution.
According to an American Ledger analysis of Trump’s financial disclosures, Trump’s income from his foreign businesses and the Washington hotel jumped by at least $21 million even though his overall income dropped by at least $82 million.
It is not possible to discern Trump’s exact income as some categories of pay are reported as ranges, such as $0 to $200 or $10,001 to $50,000, per Office of Government Ethics regulations. Some sources can be reported as generating more than $5 million, making it impossible to know whether the figure was $5.1 million or $500 million. (Download American Ledger’s data used in this analysis.)
Further, Trump’s 2017 financial disclosure covered 15.5 months while the 2018 disclosure covered 12 months.
But by comparing Trump’s income per month, a picture emerges that has troubled ethics officials.
In the 2017 filing, Trump reported earning $19.7 million from Trump Old Post Office LLC, which controls the Trump International Hotel in Washington. This year, he reported receiving $40.4 million, representing an increase of more than $2 million a month.
In 2017, the Washington hotel and foreign entities represented about 10 percent of Trump’s monthly income. In 2018, that jumped to roughly 20 percent.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that lobbyists for the Saudi government spent more than $270,000 to book rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in December 2016, weeks after Trump won the election.
Delegations from Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Kuwait have also held events at the hotel, Time reported last year.
The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued Trump, accusing him of profiting off the presidency in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
A federal judge Monday set a schedule for discovery in the case, opening the way for the attorneys general to seek records from the Trump Organization and the Treasury Department.
“We’re seeking to confirm the information that everybody already knows: Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh told The Associated Press. “He’s received numerous payments from foreign governments and state governments and they’ve been funneled, at least in part, through the Trump (hotel) in D.C.”
Trump also saw an uptick in pay from his golf resorts in Scotland, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates and his hotels in Toronto, Vancouver and Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Trump’s other international projects in Turkey, Panama and Indonesia could have made more money, but it wasn’t possible to tell since his income from was reported as ranges.
Meanwhile, Trump’s income from his domestic properties has declined as the divisiveness of his campaign carried into his presidency. Citing Trump’s unpopularity, two Trump-branded buildings in New York have taken down his name while unit owners at Trump’s high-rise in Chicago have complained their property values have plummeted.
Many of his golf courses haven’t fared much better.
In 2017, Trump received $115 million from Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami. In 2018, it dropped to $74 million, meaning Trump made $1.2 million less per month.
His income from Trump Park Avenue LLC dropped by $607,000 a month, while his income from Mar-a-Lago, his resort in South Florida, dropped by $300,000 a month.
Even his monthly income from Wollman Rink Operation LLC, which runs the seasonal ice rink in New York’s Central Park, where the Trump name is displayed on the boards, dropped by $45,000.