Who do you believe: Comey or Trump?
A 98-page financial disclosure report released by the White House has provided the first glimpse at how Donald Trump's private financial empire — or at last parts of it — fared during his campaign and early months in office.
Selected highlights (read the full report here):
Revenues at Mr Trump's private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, dubbed the “Winter White House,” jumped from the prior year's $US29.8 million to $US37.3 million. After he was elected president, the annual membership fee for club was doubled to $US200,000. Critics say the president is effectively selling access — something of a sore point after he accused Hillary Clinton of doing the same, via outsize donations to the Clinton Foundation, during her time as Secretary of State.
Revenues for Mr Trump's private jet, aka TAG Air, more than doubled to $7.7 million. His campaign used the aircraft to move the presidential candidate around the country during the campaign, with the Secret Service paying $1.6 million to buy seats for its agents.
Trump International Hotel, Washington DC
Mr Trump opened the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC in September. Since launching, the property has generated $20 million in revenue, according to the disclosure. The hotel has become the go-to venue for foreign diplomats and US corporates looking to curry favour with the Trump administration.
Incomes from foreign interests static
While the president faces controversy over the broad pattern of his investments in the middle east (where he has done a lot of business with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and none with Qatar, whom he has sided against), revenue from his international operations — including residential buildings, golf courses and hotels in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East — did not change significantly in the last year.
Mixed fortunes overall
Although Trump properties occupied for government business, or those who do business with the government, did well, overall the president had a mixed year, at least in terms of financial results that have been made public.
The disclosure report shows Mr Trump and his related business entities reported revenue of at least $US597 million, down about 3% from the $US615 million in the period a year before.
Mr Trump reported assets valued at a minimum of $US1.4 billion, down slightly from $US1.5 billion in 2016 (the president has claimed a personal fortune of $US10 billion — a good chunk of it ascribed to the value placed on his personal brand; Forbes recently downgraded its estimate of his wealth to $US3.5 billion).
The president disclosed at least $US310 million in liabilities, about the same amount as last year. The disclosure statement only lists debt for companies over which Mr Trump or family members have majority control. Mr Trump owes money to high-profile Wall Street banks like Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch, and lesser-known outfits such as Amboy Bank in New Jersey.
Unlike previous modern presidents, Mr Trump has not sold or placed his business interests in a blind trust. Instead, he turned over management to two of his sons, Eric and Donald Jr, who update him each quarter.
The disclosure form's Mar-A-Lago and Trump International Hotel segments will provide fuel for two states, Maryland and the District of Columbia, who have filed lawsuits claiming Mr Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which holds that a president should not receive compensation for services from a foreign actor, or foreign state.
Mr Trump initially pledged to give any profits from foreign business at the Trump International Hotel to charity, but the Trump Organization has since said it is proving difficult to identify which foreigners are conducting business at the hotel.
The success of the Maryland and DC lawsuits is far from certain.
But they seem guaranteed to further distract the president from his stalled agenda, which includes healthcare reform marooned in the Senate as some Republicans demand a re-write, tax reform that still only exists as a series of talking points, his first budget, the wall with Mexico, EPA budget cuts blocked by Congress and his travel ban for people from a series of Muslim-majority countries.
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