Updated at 11:36 a.m. EST
The era of Donald Trump could be ending sooner than expected. Last month, President Trump launched an investigation into his son Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign. The Ethics Committee is expected to make a decision before year’s end on whether to reprimand the president or send him to jail.What does this mean for Trump family businesses?
It’s more than a decade since the Donald Trump Organization sold its assets to Bratton Douglas. In many ways, this represents the end of what was once one of the most successful commercial groups in the United States, as well as one of the few political entities still operating.
As of 2009, the Trump Organization had a gross revenue of more than $200 million. During President Obama’s presidency, the business appeared to have grown at a phenomenal rate, raking in more than $75 million in revenue each year.What’s the state of the company now?
Partly, because Trump’s campaign and his presidency have been so radically different than those of predecessor George W. Bush. The success of the Trump Organization has come not from glossy advertising campaigns, as in years past, but rather from having a publisher and consultants sign off on the money flowing from sales of Trump-branded products.
In 2012, during the height of the financial crisis, the Trump Organization lost tens of millions of dollars. Trump ended up having to restructure many of the businesses, as well as asking creditors to find some financial help. However, he said the Trump Organization had managed to recover from the crisis.What do the White House appointees say?
Trump has often expressed the belief that the Trump Organization is a nonprofit organization operating within the government. This is an assertion the Department of Justice and IRS have ruled out, and the company has yet to cooperate with a federal ethics investigation.
Still, Trump has said that his association with the Trump Organization helped him run for president. In 2013, he boasted on a real estate forum that the Trump Organization had donated $5 million to the GOP. His senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, also reportedly believes the Trump Organization is a nonprofit.Who exactly are the trustees of the Trump Organization?
The Trump Organization was run by several trustees, among them the well-known law firm of WilmerHale, which served as the legal advisor for the company. For about a decade, Trump had three other trustees, including his children.
The lawsuit brought against the Trump Organization by WilmerHale claims that Trump, as a major investor, deserved some compensation for the use of his name on his various properties. The suit was dismissed in 2015.
“As early as 2009, the Trump Organization paid a management fee for the use of Trump’s name and likeness in the Trump tower in New York City and in Trump hotels around the world and imported merchandise made by Trump businesses,” wrote the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff Kenneth Cole.Has the Trump Organization grown stronger since the financial crisis?
So far, the business is not in much jeopardy. We already know that Trump may have bought out his two top advisors: Dan Scavino and Hope Hicks. Trump also has a loyal group of workers and advisers to assist him, like his eldest son, Eric, and his daughter Ivanka.
The biggest challenge for the Trump Organization is settling its financial woes. After last month’s revelations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into allegations that the Trump Organization handled money during the real estate boom. But a question of money may remain.Will Trump stay president?
It’s impossible to say. Trump has made clear he would never take over. He pointedly refused to take credit for the Brexit vote, or the Pussy Riot protests in Russia, and has boasted about storming the White House and shutting down a press conference. If Trump is unable to figure out how to reignite his business empire and stabilize his presidency, his legacy as the most successful businessman in U.S. history will be in serious jeopardy.