In some areas of his real estate empire, Donald Trump's presidency has been bad for business. The occupants of Trump Tower in New York, for example, have been struggling to sell their condos for what they paid for them, and the vacancy rate has spiked to more than double the numbers for Manhattan as a whole. Trump's brand has taken a serious bruising from, well, himself.
That's not the story for Trump's hotels though—political spending has skyrocketed since Trump launched his presidential campaign. Between 2012 and 2014, campaigns and political groups spent a combined total of $69,000 at Trump properties. Since Trump announced he was running in June 2015, his hotels and resorts have raked in a staggering $19 million according to a new story from Politico. That includes "28 foreign governments—including Azerbaijan, India, Kuwait, Turkey, Ukraine, Malaysia, Romania and Saudi Arabia—as well as 41 conservative advocacy organizations, 51 businesses or business groups, 16 charities, 16 religious groups, 12 state or local groups, nine foreign businesses or business groups and six police or fire organizations."
Several of those special interest groups dumping money into Trump's properties also have interests before the federal government. For example, John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile, stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington while his company was trying to get the government to approve a merger with Sprint. And diplomats arriving in the U.S. to meet with the president often make a point of staying at the D.C. hotel.
For the impeachment inquiry of Trump, Congressional Democrats are also now investigating whether he's been using his office in improper ways to enrich himself. Jamie Raskin of Missouri, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, told Politico, "President Trump has perfected the financial shakedown of people seeking political influence as a way of life. This is now standard operating procedure in Washington. It’s pay-to-play all day."
The White House pushed back against those accusations. In a statement to Politico, a spokesperson wrote, "As he announced in January 2017, President Donald Trump is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization and he does not take any action that benefits him personally. While House Democrats continue to spread false rumors in complete denial that the President was a successful businessman for decades, President Trump continues to keep his promises to the American people." That may or may not be true, but the president is still financially benefiting from those properties and never made an effort to divest from them.
The president has also been criticized for using his office to prop up his hotels and resorts where business has been lagging. He drew anger even from Republicans when he announced that he would host next year's G7 summit at the Trump National Doral Miami, which he walked back on soon thereafter. Recently Vice President Mike Pence reportedly stayed at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg on a trip to Ireland, despite having official business in Dublin, on the other side of the country. And the Air Force has also reportedly diverted crews to Scotland and lodged than at Turnberry, the president's resort there, staying there roughly 40 times since 2015. At this rate, $19 million may very well be the tip of the iceberg in the Trump Organization's profiting from the presidency.
Halfway between the White House and the Capitol building, you’ll find the bar at the Trump International Hotel, a place where senators, cabinet members, and yes, even The Donald himself have been known to congregate. Irina Aleksander spent a steak-filled week with the motley crew cozying up to the new regime and the tourists gawking at it, one overpriced cocktail at a time.
Originally Appeared on GQ