Spoiler alert: President Trump never did build that wall he promised. You know, the one between his administration and his business.
Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney flat-out said that on Sunday, in his latest shared bit of truth about the president that sounded like an excerpt from an article of impeachment.
Days after Mulvaney’s announcement that Trump would host the G7 summit at his Doral resort, Trump took it back in a Saturday night Tweet. Mulvaney told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday that the president “was honestly surprised at the level of pushback. At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.”
Understandably, it’s hard to focus on any given Trump scandal given how many of them there are. But his eagerness to profit from his presidency has been as constant as a Fox & Friends-inspired tweetstorm since his inaugural parade, when he stepped out of The Beast to pose before his new D.C. hotel.
Not only has the president flaunted two centuries of precedent to stay in the hospitality business while in office, he also considers his side-hustle a perk for voters. But don’t take my word for it:
And the president’s behavior reinforces that such talk is more than just social-media trolling to own the libs. Despite a pledge two years ago to venture elsewhere, the steakhouse in his hotel remains the only D.C. restaurant he’s been known to eat at while in office. His frequent area golf games almost always are played at his Sterling, Virginia course. He vacations at Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago.
By The New York Times’ count, he’s called on one of his properties, visiting 13 different of them in all, on 308 of his 1,002 days in office. And he’s repeatedly plugged his businesses—and their patrons—to his millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Insider accounts confirm Trump’s involvement runs even deeper than just patronizing and promoting.
In December of 2017, The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff had the scoop that the Trump Hotel D.C.’s director of revenue management claimed he’d briefed the president on banquet revenues, demographics, and whether “his presidency hurt the business.” Last month, The New York Times reported that current and former White House officials said Trump ”remains intimately involved with club minutiae, like knowing all the names on his Mar-a-Lago membership roll.” And Sunday morning, Politico quoted a former White House staffer recounting that Trump “talks up his properties every chance he gets with anyone—with staff, with members of Congress, with the press, with the public, with foreign leaders, with anyone.”
So nearly three years into Trump’s presidency, it’s no surprise that at least 27 of 53 GOP Senators—more than half—have been seen at the Trump Hotel D.C. or spent campaign funds there. Or that 25 of the 33 officials to have served in Trump’s cabinet have been spotted there, as have officials from 29 different foreign governments. If the G7 were held at Doral, it would’ve been the sixth different Trump property Japan’s prime minister had visited since their owner’s election. (While reports indicated some foreign leaders were dismayed about the choice of Doral, it seems safe to assume Shinzo Abe wasn’t one of them: he’s probably just a night or two at a Trump property shy of a free stay in an Ivanka suite.)
Similarly, it’s no surprise that as president, Trump has reported more than $81 million in income just from 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue.
While Trump had said he wouldn’t be profiting off the G7 at Doral (whatever that would have meant), don’t discount his ability to still squeeze a few dollars, euros, pounds, yen, and loonies out of the summit, wherever it’s held. Camp David, after all, is just an 80-minute drive from both his D.C. hotel and golf course.
Besides, there are lots of other conflicts already booked. Trump’s D.C. hotel is set to host an evening of prayers for the Kurds in the president’s presidential ballroom next Sunday (allowing him to profit off a foreign policy crisis he ignited); a $3,000-a-plate gala to benefit the Marines Corps’ special-ops community at which the national security adviser to the vice president, Keith Kellogg, will be an honored guest; and a two-day “Save the Senate” retreat in November, in which nine sitting GOP senators and one candidate will join our innkeeper-in-chief.
As for Mulvaney, when he inevitably tries to walk back his latest bit of refreshing candor, keep in mind that he’s well versed on the president’s hospitality business. After all, Mulvaney’s not just Trump’s acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, he’s also a repeat Trump customer.