Trump’s Financial Disclosure Shows Mixed Results for His Businesses in 2018

Revenues were mixed in 2018 at some of President Trump’s most recognizable properties — from Mar-a-Lago to the Trump International Hotel in Washington — at a time when the Trump family faced a barrage of scrutiny from government investigators, according to a financial disclosure form released on Thursday.

The president’s Washington hotel, a favored spot for Republicans and lobbyists, took in $40.8 million, up slightly from what it reported in 2017.

At the same time, his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where Mr. Trump regularly travels during the winter months, saw revenues of $22.7 million, down nearly 10 percent from the last year’s filing.

The filing, which totals 88 pages and covers the 2018 calendar year, offers a fresh but limited view into how Mr. Trump’s businesses are faring. In 2017, he reported revenues of $453 million and assets worth at least $1.4 billion. A full tally of 2018 revenues from Mr. Trump’s more than 100 business operations was not immediately available.

The disclosure made public on Thursday was the fifth that Mr. Trump has filed since declaring his candidacy for president in 2015. With his refusal to make his tax returns public, the annual disclosure offers an accounting of his assets, investments and debt related to his private business ventures. It shows that business at 20 of the highest-revenue-generating properties he operates declined by just over 1 percent in 2018, but certain individual properties showed modest revenue increases.

The disclosure is highly limited, as it does not show profits or losses, and assets are valued only in ranges, making it impossible to pinpoint Mr. Trump’s precise net worth.

But the financial disclosure underscores how the president’s business, the Trump Organization, has become a fundamentally different — and more modest — company than it was just a few years ago, when he spoke of a large pipeline of new deals even as he pledged to back away from any involvement in its management.

Since he took office, revenues at many of his largest properties have been largely flat, or have seen only modest increases. His name has been stripped from some buildings, and his company has shelved plans to start two new midrange hotel chains.

That retrenchment appears driven mostly by political factors, given that the economy has been relatively strong for the past several years. Mr. Trump’s polarizing policies and increasingly intense clashes with Democrats have turned off some potential customers and clients, particularly in heavily Democratic cities like Chicago.

Eric Trump, who manages the business with his brother Donald Trump Jr., said in a statement that he was pleased with the company’s continued performance.

“Our company had an exceptional 2018,” he said.

The Trump National Doral in Florida, which the Trump family purchased in 2012 and then spent $250 million renovating, saw its revenue in 2018 increase to nearly $76 million, up about 2 percent from $74.8 million in the previous year.

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Revenues at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where President Trump frequently travels during the winter, were down nearly 10 percent from the last year’s filing.CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago saw its management fees fall to $1.7 million, down nearly 6 percent from $1.8 million a year ago.

Golf courses, by and large, showed mixed results, with revenue increases at the clubs in Bedminster, N.J., and another near Washington that Mr. Trump frequents on weekends, but declines at clubs in the Bronx and Jupiter, Fla.

Mr. Trump is battling efforts to get further information about his personal finances, including demands by House Democrats for his tax returns, while the Trump Organization has gone to court to halt requests from Democrats for other financial records. The company also faces scrutiny from state and federal authorities for its insurance practices and other aspects of its business, including its relationship with one of its major lenders, Deutsche Bank.

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s complex financial history was the subject of a recent New York Times investigation, which showed how he generated huge business losses in the 1980s and 1990s — undercutting the image he has long promoted of himself as a real estate baron with a golden touch.

Last year’s financial disclosure report showed that Mr. Trump had personally repaid $100,000 to Michael D. Cohen, his longtime fixer and a Trump Organization lawyer. Mr. Cohen this month began a prison sentence stemming from his guilty plea in a hush-money scheme to silence women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

Given the intense scrutiny and the political headwinds, the Trump Organization has largely turned inward, focusing on its core portfolio of golf courses, hotels and real estate, while abandoning any short-term hopes of expanding.

Properties that the Trump name has been removed from in recent years include hotels in Toronto, Panama and the SoHo section of Manhattan.

To date, the performance of the family business appears to have fallen short of the windfall that critics predicted when Mr. Trump declined to divest his assets upon beginning his presidency.

Eric Trump has acknowledged a change in posture, saying as early as December 2017 that it might be necessary to “take a break” while his father is in the White House.

This year, blaming the political climate, the Trump sons shelved their plans to roll out the two new hotel brands in cities across the United States, effectively abandoning their biggest new business initiative since Election Day 2016.

Instead, the Trump Organization has been battered by a series of questions about its own business practices, and how they square with the president’s policies. The Times first highlighted its use of undocumented workers, revealing that such employees had worked for years at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Bedminster and elsewhere — a contrast with the president’s “America First” policies.

But financially, the results also have not been as bad as Mr. Trump has made them seem.

Upon taking office, Mr. Trump pledged to abide by various restrictions to his business activities, including a ban on new deals in foreign countries, where the company had enjoyed significant growth over the past decade.

Mr. Trump, in an interview in January, complained that his election had caused him to lose “massive amounts of money,” calling his decision to seek the presidency “one of the great money losers of all time.”

Source: NYT

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