Trump’s 2020 campaign is well underway, and his businesses are showing the profits, to the tune of more than $1 million already — with nearly two years to go before the next Presidential election. While Trump has been lauded for donating the salary that comes with his position to various government departments, the current amount of money funneled to his business operations already exceeds two years’ of his pay, even before calculating in other expenses that have been the subject of public inquiry.
Forbes reports that Trump’s 2020 campaign has been paying out significant sums to Trump businesses, including $665k to Trump Tower (with additional payouts amounting to $225k from the Republican National Committee), another $42k to Trump Plaza, $90k to the Trump Corporation, $120k at Trump’s hotel in Washington D.C, and $15k to his hotel in Las Vegas. The source of this information is Trump’s own federal filings — and they represent money spent between November 2017 and August 2018.
When Forbes investigated further, they couldn’t find any evidence that the campaign was using any space at Trump Plaza, despite the payments being designated as rent. The person at the front desk told them he had seen no sign of the campaign there either. However, a 2016 campaign worker said that campaign staff has sometimes stopped in at Trump Plaza, or used it as a place to sleep, possibly justifying holding space open, but leaving the question of whether a payment to Trump’s own property is entirely within bounds.
While most of these costs have been labeled as rent, the $90k to the Trump Corporation, paid out shortly after Robert Mueller’s appointment to investigate alleged interference in the 2016 election, is listed for “legal consulting” — with no explanation of why the president’s political campaign would need legal advice from his personal businesses.
Trump has been lauded by supporters for donating his salary, and for funding his own campaign, but in fact, those numbers have been represented disproportionately. His salary as President is $400k per year, divided into quarterly payments, which, according to CNBC, he has donated to governmental departments including the National Park Service and Veterans Affairs.
However, two years salary, even before taxes are taken out, only comes to $800k — significantly short of the amount Trump’s campaign has taken from donors and given to his businesses in the last year alone. He has also reportedly fully withdrawn from donating to his own campaign — a process he started all the way back in 2016, when, according to NPR, he declared in June that he would fully fund the campaign without “anybody else’s money,” but by mid-July was attending fundraisers.
While Trump poured millions of dollars of his own money into the 2016 campaign, it appears that the 2020 campaign is taking all of its money from donors — and handing over a significant chunk to the further enrichment of Trump’s own business interests.