Donald Trump Just Sellin' Millions In Real Estate To ... Untraceable LLCs? Cool Cool!
Forbes magazine continues picking on poor Donald Trump with yet another piece on how President Griftypants continues to make money off his real estate fiefdom ("empire" is too grand a word) despite pretending he'd turned the business over to his idiot sons. This time, it's a careful look at Donald Trump's roughly $35 million in profits from the sale of various properties in 2018. And wouldn't you know it, a chunk of those deals involved selling Las Vegas apartments to buyers whose identities were hidden behind limited liability companies (LLCs), which may not technically violate the law, but isn't exactly what anyone would call "transparent." OK, not what anyone outside Trumpworld would call "transparent."
Forbes did the analysis by looking at Trump's mandatory federal financial filings and local property records. And while the magazine didn't turn up anything illegal, there were a few deals that had at least a whiff of potential impropriety, but only if you're, like, suspicious of the most honest man ever to hold the office of President.
For instance, there's this little bitty deal that involved the federal government having to approve the transaction:
More than half of that $35 million came from a single deal, in which Trump and business partners offloaded a federally subsidized housing complex in Brooklyn for about $900 million. The president held a 4% stake in the property, according to his personal financial disclosure report. After subtracting roughly $370 million in debt, Forbes estimates Trump walked away with $20 million or so before taxes. The deal required approval from officials inside the Department of Housing & Urban Development, which rolls up to Donald Trump.
But surely nobody at HUD would have seen this as anything other than a routine transaction, because it didn't involve Hillary Clinton or uranium.
Then there's the sale of 36 units in his eponymous Las Vegas tower, which he owns 50-50 with casino magnate Phil Ruffin. Those apartments brought Trump a profit of $5.5 million before taxes, and here's where those LLCs came in:
One-third of the Las Vegas condo customers purchased their units through limited liability companies, a move that allows buyers to shield their true identities.
In other words, people were pumping cash into the president's coffers without disclosing who they were.
Was there anything improper about those sales? With the buyers' identities hidden, there's simply no way to tell whether the sales quidded any quos. Look, if there were anything wrong with a "president" getting rich off being in office, there'd probably be something in the Constitution about it, maybe. And you might even expect an attorney general nominee to have studied up on it.
Oh, yes, and then there's this fun stuff!
Just before Trump took office, one of his lawyers promised, "No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of President Trump's presidency." But on October 2, a man named Yu Zhang purchased a unit in the Las Vegas tower for $255,000, listing his address as Taiyuan City, China [...] USA Today reported that the president's company previously decided a 2017 sale to a German couple did not qualify as a "foreign deal."
Well, those properties were only bought by people in China and Germany, not by the whole Chinese or German governments, and, uh, the deals took place in America, too, so what's your problem? Besides, that was just a broken promise, not like a law or anything. Besides, something something Obama, something something Iran nuclear deal, and we're making all sorts of money from NAFTA II, so if you think about it, Donald Trump is paying for WALL, although actually it's Mexico.
Forbes lists a number of smaller deals as well, like the sale of some vacant lots near Trump's LA-area golf course and a warehouse in South Carolina, plus this weird detail:
In Chicago, the president unloaded three parking spaces at his Trump International Hotel and Tower for a total of $170,000.
Before the sale was final, Trump no doubt confirmed with the Secret Service that the vehicles using those parking spaces have wheels, too. He has to be careful, you know.
The piece notes that Trump didn't actually sell any residential properties in Manhattan, which make up some $215 million worth of his holdings, but that he sure had tried, with the Trump business website offering a Park Avenue penthouse listing for $28.5 million and a Central Park apartment offered for $3 million. Nobody in New York was buying. You'd think the Saudis would want to move up from renting, huh?
Still, the Forbes investigation only found the capacity for rampant influence peddling, not any actual influence peddling, so get ready for the inevitable Trump tweet about his flawless ethics.
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