Saturday, May 12, 2018

Guys, I have an idea where that money may have come from

Doonbeg Golf Course, County Clare, via RTE.

Among all the week's crazy news stories,  this one, from Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Jack Gillum at the Washington Post last Saturday (and reinforced by the WNYC/Pro Publica Trump Inc. project), got a little lost:
In the nine years before he ran for president, Donald Trump’s company spent more than $400 million in cash on new properties — including 14 transactions paid for in full, without borrowing from banks — during a buying binge that defied real estate industry practices and Trump’s own history as the self-described “King of Debt.”
Trump’s vast outlay of cash, tracked through public records and totaled publicly here for the first time, provides a new window into the president’s private company, which discloses few details about its finances.
It shows that Trump had access to far more cash than previously known, despite his string of commercial bankruptcies and the Great Recession’s hammering of the real estate industry. 
Eleven golf courses and resorts from Aberdeen (2006) through Doonbeg and Turnberry (2014), a winery-resort, a hotel, and five houses, almost entirely paid with cash, from a man who used to boast that the secret of his success was Other People's Money.
“I do that all the time in business: It’s called other people’s money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money because it takes the risk,” Trump told a campaign-trail audience in North Carolina in September 2016. “You get a good chunk of it, and it takes the risk.”
The really interesting question being, where did all that money come from exactly?
Eric Trump, a son of the president who helps manage the company, told The Washington Post that none of the cash used to purchase the 14 properties came from outside investors or from selling off major Trump Organization assets. 
Instead, Eric Trump said, the firm’s existing businesses — commercial buildings in New York, licensing deals for Trump-branded hotels and clothes — produced so much cash that the Trumps could tap that flow for spending money. 
“He had incredible cash flow and built incredible wealth,” Eric Trump said. “He didn’t need to think about borrowing for every transaction. We invested in ourselves.”
Well, I just happened to remember that that's not what Eric has always said. Indeed, on the subject of one of these very golf courses, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a 2014 conversation that the golf writer James Dodson reported in 2017:
"So when I got in the cart with Eric," Dodson says, "as we were setting off, I said, 'Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.' And this is what he said. He said, 'Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.' I said, 'Really?' And he said, 'Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.' Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting."
It sure was! And then there was this, in response to that:
And 2006, the year this remarkable shopping spree is said to have begun, was the year Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Felix Sater made their trip to Moscow theoretically scouting locations for the Trump Tower that everybody's always planning but that never gets built.

That's all I really have to say. I'd have written it up a couple days ago, but I assumed somebody else would, and it seemed kind of simple. But as far as I can see nobody has! Everybody's all excited, with some justice, over "attorney" Michael Cohen's apparent sale of $4 million worth of imaginary influence over the Emperor last year, and this move of $400-odd million evidently from secret Russian sources into the Emperor's own portfolio of largely unprofitable properties is under the radar, and at the same time we've kind of known about it all along.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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