Private Citizen Trump Begs President Trump: ALMS FOR THE POOR?
Donald Trump wants you to give him money. More specifically, he wants American taxpayers to cut him a break on the rent for the Trump International Hotel in DC, which he leases from the federal government. How about we just let Eric and Deej rip up those rent checks for May and June, and pay whatever they think is fair for the rest of the year, 'mmmkay?
The president's hotel spent the past three years hoovering up cash from people with business before his administration. Foreign governments, companies lobbying the executive branch, and every Republican political group in the country crowded the lobby, jockeying to show fealty to the president by slipping a little cash in his G-string. Not to mention all the money he's charged the federal government. But now that Trump botched the pandemic response and everything is shut down, they're all staying home. So he'd like the federal government to make up the shortfall, please and thank you!
"Just treat us the same," Eric Trump told the New York Times, which broke the story, on Tuesday. "Whatever that may be is fine." Big talk for a guy whose entire business model is based on being not the same as every other hotel. Because other hotels leave you a mint on the pillow, but at Trump properties, you get an emolument with your turndown service. Want to be ambassador to South Africa or leave your mark on the Veterans Administration's data management system? Book your stay now!
Naturally, the Trump administration will be entirely transparent as it considers the Trump Organization's request for a taxpayer bailout on its $268,000 monthly rent. Haha, we are silly in quarantine! No, the General Services Administration (GSA), which handles the lease and dummied up that No Emoluments Nothing To See Here Folks memo in 2017, refused to comment on this or any other federally owned property that might be asking for rent abatement, as did the White House.
As the Times points out, that poses an awkward conundrum for those pencil pushers at the GSA.
If it denies the request, the agency risks running afoul of the president, who appoints its leader; but if it accommodates the Trumps, the agency is likely to draw fire from critics.
"Running afoul." RUNNING AFOUL?
These people would clearly talk about Jack Nicholson running afoul of Nurse Ratched, who controlled his treatment regimen. How about we translate that sentence into actual English, shall we?
If the GSA doesn't let the president stiff the federal government on the rent in a crisis he bears at least partial responsibility for, then Donald Trump is likely to illegally retaliate against its leadership and possibly sic his vitriolic followers on civil servants just trying to do their jobs.
The Times gave similar treatment to Palm Beach County's predicament as landlord for the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, at it tries to collect the $88,000 monthly rent.
Some of Palm Beach County's commissioners worry that if they don't give the president's company extra time to make lease payments, the county could anger the president and lose out on federal assistance to fight the coronavirus, according to a county official who wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
And once again, Eric Trump humbly requests equal treatment, as if his father hadn't just used the federal government's supply of lifesaving ventilators to reward sycophants and punish his enemies.
"In Florida, the very county that mandated we close is the very county collecting rent," Eric whined. "What are they doing for others? Just treat us the same." Can't charge people to swap germs in the dining room of your trash palace during a global pandemic? UNFAIR!
Naturally, the Trump Organization wants a break from its lenders at Deutsche Bank, too. Good luck with that Justice Department investigation into money laundering at DB!
But back to the GSA for a moment, because it seems pretty unlikely the agency is about to get itself crosswise with Dear Leader by turning down his request for cash. This is the same GSA that canceled longstanding plans to move the FBI headquarters out of the building down the block from the Trump Hotel in DC. The building would likely have been developed into a hotel that competed with the Trump property, so after GSA Commissioner Emily Murphy was sworn in, she went back to the books and whited out the proceeds of that sale, magically making the move too expensive after all. More or less.
Ms. Murphy testified to the House Appropriations Committee that her meeting with the president about the FBI building had nothing whatsoever to do with canceling the deal. But also, she couldn't talk about it because EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE. Here's the commissioner for the GSA's Public Buildings Service, Dan Matthews, and Richard Haley II, assistant director for the FBI's finance division, who were simply "unable to answer that question" about White House interference in the decision to cancel the sale of the FBI building, under questioning by Democratic Senator Chris van Hollen.
Murphy and Matthews remain in their positions at the GSA, so it looks like Eric Trump can look forward to being treated just the same as everyone else. Or maybe even a little bit better!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.