MONEY,MONEY,MONEY,MONEY,MONEY Be he never so humble, there’s no one like Trump By Ilene Proctor You don’t have to go far to line our “so called” president’s pockets. You only have to show up at the lobby bar of the Trump International Hotel in Washington and you’ve gotten to third base. Savvy shysters now know if you want to get to second base, without a trace make a donation through a shell corporation to Trump's inaugural committee. An undisclosed donation to America First Policies, the new outside group run by Ayers, Parscale, and other ex-Trump aides. A monthly retainer to Avenue Strategies also helps, the consulting firm launched by former Trump aides Corey Lewandowski and Barry Bennett mow conveniently located one block from the White House. But to get to first base there is a simpler and more direct way to put money in the pocket of the new president and his family: spend money at a Trump hotel or resort. Lots of money. In many ways, the president's properties—which he refuses to divest or separate himself from in any serious way—serve as ideal conduits for directly influencing and even bribing the Trump administration. For home run an individual, corporation, or foreign government could pay for rooms at Trump hotels, spend lavishly at hotel restaurants, and drop sizeable sums on ballrooms and other event spaces to direct money to the Trump family in the hopes of acquiring influence. If you use the space, you're entertaining people on the president's property, and if you don't, you've basically just funneled the money to the president and the president's family. It’s a fool proof system for fools who want the Trump gang to know if any corporations, lobbyists, advocacy groups, businesspeople, foreign governments, or overseas leaders spend money at Trump properties. It’s oft said arms make the man and now arms traders, sleazy financiers, or any other bad actors can cash into the WH cash register. It’s all greed all the time for this steed at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort to double its initiation fee, They're willing to raise the price on anything. What would be an outrageous payment for a social event at a Trump property? $100,000? $200,000? $300,000? And the public will never find [out] about it. In other words, anyone who wanted the Trumps' attention and goodwill could rent out space at a Trump hotel or resort for an exorbitant amount—whether they actually used it for a function or not. Foreign dignitaries have already flocked to Trump's Washington hotel. A week after the election, nearly 100 foreign diplomats partied at one of the hotel's ballroom spaces, dubbed the Lincoln Library. Kuwait moved its annual National Day party from the Four Seasons to Trump's DC hotel. As one Asian diplomat told the Washington Post in November, "Why wouldn't I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, 'I love your new hotel!'? Isn't it rude to come to his city and say, 'I am staying at your competitor?'" Reading between the lines isn't that tough here., "There is a reason that the senior staff hang out in the lobby bar at the hotel. They are seeing who spends time and money there and who books large parties there and large blocks of rooms for delegations." The lobbyist said he wouldn't be surprised to see major trade associations such as the US Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Broadcasters use the hotel to put up visiting colleagues and affiliates. "Point is," the lobbyist said, "someone is paying attention to the person who orders the $1,000 bottle of wine." Be he never so humble, there’s no one like Trump. Unlike presidents before him, Trump has refused to divest from his international business holdings, over the objections of myriad ethics experts. Indeed, the Trump Organization is capitalizing on the soaring profile of its founder. Mar-a-Lago upped its initiation fee from $100,000 to $200,000. A Trump Organization executive also suggested that the company plans to expand its hotel offerings, eyeing 26 US metropolitan areas for new projects. The company currently has properties in five major markets. At Trump's January 11 press conference, a lawyer for Trump said the new president would step down from management roles at the Trump Organization and put his assets into a trust controlled by his sons but would not give up his ownership stake. Trump's lawyer also said Trump would donate the profits—not revenue—from his hotels derived from foreign government sources to the US Treasury, but as usual with this prevaricating president there is no method for confirming that Trump is in fact complying with the agreement. Trump still stands to benefit financially from the properties he owns. He recently transferred ownership stake in his Washington hotel into a trust that exists solely "to hold assets for the exclusive benefit of Donald J. Trump," according to a regulatory filing obtained by ProPublica. So money spent at the Trump International Hotel in Washington still winds up in his own coffers. It doesn't have to create a profit for Trump to benefit: Hotel revenue can cover overhead and debt payments, such as Trump's $170 million loan from Deutsche Bank for his DC hotel. Trump said at his January 11 press conference that he would not discuss business with his sons, but ethics experts say there is no way to police this. Donald Jr. and Eric appear to enjoy ample access to their father, to the White House, and to policymakers in and around the administration. On inauguration weekend, the brothers hobnobbed with their father's foreign business partners at inaugural parties. The brothers' social-media accounts show them sitting front row for Gorsuch's announcement ceremony in the West Wing and later chatting one-on-one with Gorsuch while Pence stood awkwardly behind Donald Jr. The Trump administration has gone out of its way to promote Trump's Washington hotel. Sean Spicer, then the incoming White House press secretary, plugged the hotel during a press briefing on the day before Trump's swearing-in. "It's an absolutely stunning hotel," Spicer told reporters. "I encourage you to go there if you haven't been by." During the official inaugural parade, Trump stopped his motorcade near the hotel, exited his vehicle, and began walking along Pennsylvania Avenue, where he and his family waved to fans. Since Trump took office, his Washington hotel has become a hub and gathering spot for Trump supporters, acolytes, and—yes—family members. As Trump might say: I’ll be making so much money, you’ll get bored asking me about it.

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