Reporter David Fahrenthold is responsible for perhaps 80% of everything we know about Donald Trump's ongoing business operations. In a start-of-year summary of where things stand, Fahrenthold and other Washington Post reporters wrote up a terse rundown of the state of the presidential grift-o-matic; they question, among other things, whether the Trump family purging their businesses of undocumented workers (only after being caught, of course) will raise labor costs and whether the hit Donald's companies have been taking due to their association with, you know, him will compel Trump to sell off assets or take other, similarly drastic measures.
Donald Trump only months ago sincerely, truly ordered the next G7 Summit be held at one of his own golf resorts, for example, and had the White House defending that obviously crooked money grab before backing down again. He has gotten bolder in his attempts to funnel money into his properties, and his family has become less interested in keeping up pretenses of basic propriety, each year of his "term."
It's the news that Trump has begun to explore a possible half-billion dollar sale of his Washington D.C. hotel that stands out. The hotel has for three years been a hub of in-the-open petty bribery, with foreign and domestic political officials, corporate heads, and lobbying groups all booking time and rooms at the property in straightforward attempts to be seen and be noticed by the grifter in chief.
Some of the profits generated by foreign supplicants are allegedly donated away again by the hotel in an opaque and unprovable company promise to mitigate the brazen unconstitutionality of this profit-taking; all of the profits from domestic government, lobbyist, and industry groups goes to Trump and family. It has remained one of the easiest and most plausibly legal ways of buying presidential goodwill short of Mar-a-Lago membership itself, and has no doubt boosted the hotel's otherwise-disappointing performance in ways that President Me finds especially pleasing and compelling.
Selling the hotel for a half-billion dollars in an election year, however, opens up an entirely new avenue of grift. To hell with the petty stuff; if the royals of Saudi Arabia want a half-billion dollars worth of personal favors from the United States president they can write a single check and be done with it. If the same Russian oligarchs willing to polish Sen. Mitch McConnell's record with the home crowd, to the tune of $200 million in investment, want to refinance their most loyal American defender, a man who yet again finds himself in steep debt despite every past attempt to save his bacon, they can spend two and a half times that much and own an American president outright. It could be done via shell companies and offshore trickeries, or Trump's winning bidder could announce they have bought the man on state TV.
The short version is that Trump's properties here and abroad continue to not do well, the supplications of supporters are still not nearly enough to match the damage done as the rest of the nation cringes away from them, we continue to know almost nothing about the true nature of Trump's finances but all investigation suggests he is again burdened by massive debts, and in the pressure cooker of impeachment, campaigning, and potential war the television pitchman with nuclear weapons is likely to become even more overt in squeezing whatever cash he can get from this nation, its wealthiest request-havers, and anyone else in the world needing a big government favor and willing to pay for one.
If you think the man can handle that sort of pressure without doing something astonishingly crooked and/or stupid, you haven't been paying attention.
Published with permission from Daily Kos.