LIVE – Updated at 17:13
Documents released by the House oversight committee contradict former president’s claims hotel was making more than tens of millions of dollars.
Lest we forget, as all the todo around the debt limit begins to wind down (for now), there’s still the very contentious $3.5tn reconciliation bill up ahead.
Senator Bernie Sanders took the time today to chat with reporters about his displeasure over the role that centrist Democrats senators Joe Manchin and Kysten Sinema in shrinking the bill.
He and other progressives in the party have been clear from the start that this “human infrastructure” bill focused on social services and environmental measures was fine as it was and should be voted on alongside the $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure bill to give it a better chance of passing. Republicans – and Manchin and Sinema – have long balked at the size, as well as attempts to pass it alongside a bill they had negotiated.
Sanders has especially gone hard at Manchin, who has repeatedly spoken about how he feels that the bill would move the country toward “an entitlement society”.
Steve Bannon has informed the House committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol that he will not be cooperating with their subpoena to provide related documents.
This comes after Politico reported yesterday that Donald Trump has directed Bannon and three other former aides – former social media czar Dan Scavino, former defense department official Kash Patel and former chief of staff Mark Meadows – to ignore the subpoena, likely because he will attempt to block their testimony in court.
A letter in which a Trump attorney instructs the four to not cooperate claimed that the material that the committee is seeking is covered by executive privilege.
“President Trump is prepared to defend these fundamental privileges in court,” the letter said.
Sources told CNN that both Bannon and Meadows have responded to subpoena, but it’s unclear if Meadows plans to cooperate. It’s unclear if Scavino or Patel have responded yet.
The House oversight committee received in July a trove of financial documents from the general services administration as part of the committee investigation into whether there was a conflict of interest in Donald Trump and his DC hotel, the Trump International Hotel Washington DC, holding a federal government lease on the Old Post Office building during his presidency.
These documents revealed what many have been trying to prove for years now but could not because of investigators would not make public the former president’s financial records – that Trump, who has always portrayed himself as a successful businessman who could turn a profit out of anything, was actually losing tens of millions of dollars while boasting that he was making tens of millions of dollars.
The documents have raised a number of other concerns, the committee noted. Among them:
- Trump received “undisclosed preferential treatment” from Deutsche Bank – a foreign bank – on a $170m construction loan in 2018, which he did not disclose.
- The Trump Hotel received about $3.7m in payments from foreign governments from 2017 to 2020, raising questions about possible violations of the foreign emoluments clause.
- Trump concealed debts when he applied for the federal government lease in 2011. According to the documents, he provided the general services administration with financial information that omitted $1.1bn in outstanding loan balances for properties in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco.
- Trump transferred millions of dollars in and out of the Trump Hotel through affiliated entities and opaque transactions with other Trump businesses, which raises questions on whether the general services administration was able to enforce provisions that prohibited the president from taking money out of the business.
When he took office, Trump resigned from his companies but transferred his business interests to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, and named as trustees his son, Donald J. Trump, Jr., and the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg. As the House committee noted, Trump remained the beneficiary of the trust, “meaning that any financial benefits that accrued to his businesses ultimately benefited him personally”.
Trump’s DC hotel lost almost $74m during his presidency
While publicly claiming that the Trump International Hotel Washington DC was making more than tens of millions of dollars, the hotel lost almost $74m between 2016 and 2020, according to documents released by the House oversight committee.
The hotel had to be loaned more than $27m from one of Trump’s holding companies, DJT Holdings LLC, according to financial statements the committee obtained, and more than $24m was not repaid and was instead converted to capital contributions.
The House committee is investigating the federal government lease of the Old Post Office building to Trump for the hotel. The general services administration awarded the lease to Trump in 2012 and Trump opened the hotel in 2016 when he was the Republican nominee for president.
In a letter from the committee to the general services administration, representatives Carolyn Maloney and Gerald Connolly wrote that the newly obtained documents show that “President Trump’s federal financial disclosures projected an exaggerated image of financial success and hid the Trump Hotel’s serious financial problems, raising questions about the effectiveness of the current financial disclosure regime.
“In particular, the new documents show that while President Trump privately reported tens of millions of dollars in losses to GSA, he hid these losses from the American public by omitting them from his federally mandated, public financial disclosures,” the letter reads. “By portraying the hotel as a successful business, President Trump concealed significant ethical issues stemming from his failing business. The hotel’s massive losses decreased President Trump’s personal net worth, compromised the hotel’s ability to repay loans from other entities owned by the President, and potentially jeopardized his other personal assets due to the personal guarantee he provided for the Trump Hotel’s $170m debt.”
Read the whole letter here.
Democrats are drawing a line in the sand when it comes to the raising the debt limit again in the next few weeks.
Republicans have said from the start that they want Democrats to raise the limit “on their own” via budget reconciliation, a lengthy and cumbersome process that will stymie the Democratic legislative agenda.
Congress at most is allowed to go the budget reconciliation route just three times a year, and Democrats have already used it to pass a $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill and are now trying to use to pass Biden’s $3.5tn “human infrastructure” reconciliation bill to boost safety net, health and environmental programs.
In addition, the Democrats have the battle for voting rights ahead of them.
Senate Chris Coons is coming out strong in saying that Democrats won’t use reconciliation to deal with the debt ceiling. “We didn’t do it this time, won’t do it next time,” he said.
Here is the White House statement on Senate passing yesterday the deal to raise the debt limit by $480bn through 3 December. From White House press secretary Jen Psaki:
Tonight’s votes are welcome steps forward in averting a default that would have been devastating for our economy and for working families. President Biden looks forward to signing this bill as soon as it passes the House and reaches his desk. His focus remains on the task before us of swiftly passing his economic agenda and making vital investments in jobs, competitiveness, and lower prices for the middle class.
These votes underscore that raising the debt limit is a shared responsibility to pay for debts incurred in the past by Presidents and Congresses of both parties – debt that has nothing to do with President Biden’s fully paid-for economic agenda. As we move forward, there must be no question of whether America will pay its bills; Congress must address the debt limit in December and beyond – just as we’ve done almost 80 times over the last 60 years. Eleven Republicans did their part tonight, ending the filibuster and allowing Democrats to do the work of raising the debt limit. As we approach the coming months, we hope that even more Republicans will join Democrats in responsibly addressing the debt limit instead of choosing default or obstruction.
We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months.
Debt limit deal heads to the House amid partisan tensions
Hello, live blog readers. Happy Friday.
We’re not done with the debt limit deal yet – and, of course, let’s all remember, we won’t be done with the debt limit for a while as we’ll have to do this all again in a few weeks because the deal only extends the debt ceiling by $480bn through 3 December.
With a 50-48 vote, the Senate approved the deal Thursday night to extend the government’s borrowing authority, with the House coming back from recess early to vote on it Tuesday.
Politico is reporting that “a shouting match” erupted on the Senate floor after the vote, with Republican senators Mitt Romney and John Thune none too pleased with majority leader Chuck Schumer and what they thought was an ungracious speech.
Here’s video of the heated exchange – Schumer is sitting to the middle left when he is approached by Romney and Thune.
Schumer had lambasted the Republicans for playing a “dangerous and risky partisan game” and said Democrats were able to “pull our country back from the cliff’s edge that Republicans tried to push us over.”
The Republicans had twice used the filibuster to block the Democrats from raising the debt limit, and were threatening to do it once again before the deal. Their argument was that Democrats needed to raise the limit “on their own” via budget reconciliation, a lengthy and cumbersome process that would have consequences for the Democrats’ future legislative agenda.
Democrats then essentially bluffed by threatening a change to the filibuster rules, after which minority leader Mitch McConnell offered up the deal.
Centrist Democratic senator Joe Manchin could be seen putting his head in his hands during Schumer’s address, which he later called “inappropriate”.
Meanwhile, top Senate Republicans are now advancing a disinformation campaign over the debt ceiling, distorting the reasons for needing to raise the nation’s borrowing cap, Hugo Lowell reports.
Read more here: