[Commentary] For Donald Trump, the White House is His Safe House
Donald Trump has “joked,” to raucous applause and chants at his rallies, that he might want to stay in office as president for another dozen years. Deep down, he probably really does. But Trump doesn’t want to be reelected president so that he can continue governing the United States and serving us citizens. No, he’s trying desperately to keep hiding behind what he sees as a presidential shield to protect him from the potentially massive financial and legal troubles looming on his horizon.
Trump is personally on the hook for more than $400 million in loans on his various business properties. He’s fighting with the IRS over a tax bill that could cost him more than $100 million. He’s constantly in court, seeking to prevent the New York attorney general from building a case against him for bank fraud. He’s got E. Jean Carroll’s rape defamation lawsuit hanging over him. And people now are asking questions about a recently revealed secret Chinese bank account. Every day, he looks more vulnerable.
The Washington Post today has new reporting that several of Trump’s hotel and resort businesses are so severely hurting for customers that it’s quite possible that some may have to shut down. The newspaper obtained an account of a recent board meeting at Trump’s Chicago hotel. Revenue has plunged and the property has just a 24 percent occupancy rate. Next year is expected to be just as bad. Gabriel Constantin, the hotel’s managing director, had a warning about the hotel’s future, if the economic effects of the coronavirus don’t ease: “It’s going to be very, very tough to keep the boat afloat.”
Trump’s election as president crushed his businesses and the problems are everywhere. In September his Washington hotel was only five percent full on many nights. At his Doral resort in Florida, one member told The Post that on a recent visit, “the vast lobby was almost empty — and the golf course even more so. We . . . played an entire round without seeing any other players on the course until we finally reached some players on the 14th Hole,” the member said in an email message, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid risking his membership.
When Trump lies and says that we “are rounding the corner” on the coronavirus pandemic and that the virus is “going away” it’s not because he really believes it. When he says we have to “reopen the economy” it’s not because he is genuinely concerned about people getting back to their pre-pandemic normal lives. As with anything Trump says, it’s really — and only — about him.
His businesses are in trouble and the real reason he’s willing to put countless lives at risk by ignoring the ongoing pandemic is so people once again will stay in his hotels, play golf at his resorts and put money in his pocket.
Those of us who care deeply about the future of our democracy and the planet would rather see Trump evicted from the White House in 12 weeks, not 12 years. But Trump doesn’t just want to stay in the White House. He needs to. It’s his “safe house.”