President's Sons Are Selling Trump Organization Assets To Pay Down Debt
President Donald Trump claims not to benefit financially from his office, but his two oldest sons have been running a tight ship to make his company a profitable enterprise.
As the heads of The Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have sold over $100M worth of real estate since their father left his position at the company to run the country, Forbes reports. Because he never divested himself from his real estate holdings, Trump has likely personally profited from the sales, including one that had to be approved by his own administration, the report says.
The Trump Organization's largest chunk of sale revenue came from its 4% ownership stake in Starrett City Partners, an ownership group that held a public housing property of the same name in East New York in the borough of Brooklyn. Starrett City Partners sold the complex, the largest public housing project in the world, for over $900M to a joint venture of Brooksville Co. and the Rockpoint Group, which renamed the complex Spring Creek Towers.
Because of the project's federal funding, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, a Trump appointee, had final approval of a transaction that would pay his superior over $33M, Forbes reports. Carson approved the deal in early 2018.
The only completed commercial building that The Trump Organization has sold since Trump's inauguration was a warehouse in North Charleston, South Carolina, for $4M. Other significant sales include condos at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas; a $16M penthouse at Trump Park Avenue; and nine undeveloped lots in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, for a total of $19M.
The company has so far purchased only one property under the stewardship of Eric and Donald Jr., Forbes reports: an $18.5M mansion next to Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf resort sold by Maryanne Trump Barry, the pair's aunt.
Otherwise, sale proceeds have gone toward minor renovations to Trump Tower; more significant improvements to a five-story office building in San Francisco; financial support to Trump-owned golf clubs in Europe that are losing money; and paying down debt, Forbes reports.
All told, the organization has reportedly repaid about $60M in debt since Trump's inauguration, with $19M going toward loans on Manhattan properties: 40 Wall St., 6 East 57th St. and 502 Park Ave. The Trump International Las Vegas condo sales went toward paying back a loan that Trump took out against the building in the final days before the 2016 presidential election, Forbes reports.
The Trump Organization reportedly repaid another $8M of debt it owed against its 30% ownership stake in 555 California St. in San Francisco. The building, of which Vornado owns 70%, does not bear any significant Trump signage but is among The Trump Organization's best-performing assets, Forbes reports.
One major venture the Trump sons had reportedly hoped to undertake was the creation of two budget hotel chains for the U.S. heartland, American Idea and Scion Hotels. The plan was scrapped in February due to what Eric Trump called a "hostile political climate."
If debt relief has been their focus, Eric and Donald Jr. are operating in a different way than their father, who ran up enormous debt loads throughout the 1980s and '90s, and whose companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy several times.
As the House of Representatives digs into an official impeachment inquiry, it has requested documents pertaining to White House staff and foreign diplomats' usage of Trump-owned properties. As the sale of Starrett City was already the subject of a House investigation, there appears to be a chance that Eric and Donald Jr.'s attempts to shore up their father's debt could be drawn further into impeachment proceedings.