The Trump Wars

Does Doral Prove That Donald Trump Is Still Running the Trump Organization?

October 21, 2019
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Who's in charge here? (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Over the weekend Donald Trump abandoned his plan to hold next year’s G-7 summit at his Doral resort.

In the course of doing so, Trump made a very interesting statement:

“I would be willing” to host the event at cost. Or possibly even for free.

How is that possible?

When Donald Trump became president he refused to divest himself of his company, the Trump Organization. Instead, he claimed that he turned over operations of the organization to his children, so that even though he could still profit from it, he would have no decision-making authority over the business.

This arrangement didn’t even pass the laugh test, let alone the smell test. But that never stopped Trump and his people from insisting that it was true:

  • “My father made a tremendous sacrifice when he left a company that he spent his entire life building to go into politics,” counters Eric Trump, who now comanages the Trump Organization on behalf of the president, in a statement to Forbes. “Everything he does is for the good of the American people—he has zero involvement in the Trump Organization and quite frankly to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”
  • From Reuters: “Trump told a news conference he would resign from all positions overseeing his hotels, golf courses and hundreds of other businesses and move his assets into a trust to help ensure that he will not consciously take actions as president that would benefit him personally.”
  • From Trump lawyer Sherri Dillon: “Through the trust agreement, he has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization to his sons Don and Eric and a longtime Trump executive, Allen Weisselberg. Together, Don, Eric and Allen will have the authority to manage the Trump Organization and will make decisions for the duration of the presidency without any involvement whatsoever by President-elect Trump.
  • More from Eric Trump: “Listen, I think it’s important to keep separation of church and state. . . . We’ve taken extraordinary, extraordinary measures to make sure the two are separate and distinct.”
  • From Trump himself: “What I’m going to be doing is my two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are not going to discuss it with me.”
  • From White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham last Friday: “The president has no involvement in the Trump Organization anymore.” [all emphases added]

So how, exactly, did the president know at what cost Doral was going to be charging for services at the G-7? And why did he say “I would be willing” if he has no operational authority within the Trump Organization?

Here is how large project decisions are normally made at any organization, public, private, or governmental:

  • The scope of the project is defined by the client organization.
  • The client organization approaches various vendors about the project.
  • Vendors interested in competing for the project submit proposals in response to the client’s RFP’s (Request for Proposal).
  • The proposals detail exactly how they would service the project and what projected costs would be.
  • The client then awards the contract to the vendor it thinks is best suited for the job.

I would very much like to see the RFP that was submitted by the U.S. government and the proposal submitted in response by the Trump Organization in their bid to win the contract for hosting the 2020 G-7 Summit.

I would like to see what costs they proposed.

What do you think the odds are that the Trump Organization proffered, in writing, a willingness to not charge for their services?

What do you think the odds are that the Trump Organization even submitted a proposal in response to an RFP?

This is not the first, or the second, or the third time the government has been set up to spend big on Trump properties.

So either this is all just one big, crazy, coincidence. Or the Trump Organization is just putting in amazing bids for government business right now.

Or Donald Trump is still involved in the operations of the company which he and his family own, despite what he and his agents have told—and continue to tell—the public.

Jonathan V. Last

Jonathan V. Last is executive editor of The Bulwark.