The Trump International Hotel is located in the Old Post office building, a federally owned property that effectively makes the Trump administration the hotel’s landlord.
The Trump family business is asking the Trump administration to give the president’s hotel in Washington, D.C. a break on its monthly lease payments during the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Trump International Hotel is operated by the Trump Organization, but the hotel itself is located in the Old Post office building, a federally owned property that effectively makes the Trump administration—specifically the General Services Administration—the hotel’s landlord.
The Trump Organization signed a 60-year lease for the building in 2013 and over the past three years, the hotel has become an influential hub for lobbyists, Republican allies, and foreign officials hoping to get in Trump’s good graces. That has changed in recent weeks, however, as the coronavirus pandemic has left it nearly empty and struggling to meet its financial obligations.
The Times reported that the Trump Organization has inquired about changing the hotel’s lease payments, which includes monthly rent payments of $267,653 to the GSA, according to the agency’s website.
President Trump has refused to divest from his business interests and still owns the company, but his oldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr., run the day-to-day operations. Eric Trump confirmed to the Times that the company was seeking possible changes to the lease and was simply asking the GSA or any relief that it might provide other federal tenants.
“Just treat us the same,” Eric Trump told the Times in a statement. “Whatever that may be is fine.”
The GSA and the White House did not immediately respond to the Times’ requests for comment.
The Trump Organization’s request for assistance comes just days after CNN reported that the D.C. hotel furloughed 237 workers and Trump properties have collectively furloughed nearly 2,000 employees. The Wall Street Journal reported that the coronavirus pandemic is costing the Trump organization more than a million dollars a day in lost revenue.
Trump and his family have been blocked from obtaining any bailout funds from the Treasury Department’s $500 billion lending program included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed into law in March, but that doesn’t preclude the organization for asking the GSA for help on its lease.
The Trump Organization is far from the only business struggling to make rent payments. Whether it’s small businesses in Michigan or nationwide restaurant chains like The Cheesecake Factory, companies are finding it difficult to meet the financial terms of their leases as the coronavirus devastates the American economy.
The Trump Organization argued it should be treated the same as other businesses and said that it is only asking for temporary relief as the global hotel industry has suffered extreme drops in business, but the Times’ report met with swift backlash online as allegations of corruption and conflict of interest flew across Twitter on Tuesday.
The federal government isn’t the only institution on the receiving end of the Trump family’s requests for financial assistance. The Times reports that the Trump Organization has also been talking to Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest creditor, about postponing payments on its loans. The president owes Deutsche Bank more than $300 million on loans linked to the D.C. hotel, his Doral golf resort in Florida and a skyscraper in Chicago. The organization is also working with Palm Beach County to renegotiate the terms of their lease on the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“In Florida, the very county that mandated we close is the very county collecting rent,” Eric Trump told the Times. “What are they doing for others? Just treat us the same.”