We have been discussing the spread of conflicts of interest in healthcare for years. We have recently been concerned about how to combat conflicts of interest and corruption in health care under an administration with such serious conflicts of interest and high-level corruption, most recently here.
The conflicts of interest and alleged corruption by President Trump and his family focused on their ownership of the Trump Organization, a multinational private hospitality and real estate company. Since taking office, Trump has personally benefited from the Trump Organization’s dealings with foreign, U.S., and U.S. states and grossly violated two U.S. constitutional clauses.
These deals raised important constitutional and ethical issues, and there were concerns as to whether the Trump administration’s policies were distorted for the benefit of its companies and therefore its own assets. Our biggest concern, however, was how his government’s contradictory and corrupt aura made it difficult to address conflicts of interest and corruption in healthcare.
Now, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that Trump’s conflicts of interest can jeopardize his government’s health policies and ability to suppress the virus and save lives.
Social distancing and other measures to combat coronavirus that damage the Trump organization’s finances
In the Washington Post on March 23, 2020 David Farenthold reported on the likely serious financial losses of the Trump organization, whose largest owner is President Trump
President Trump’s private business has closed six of its seven top-selling clubs and hotels due to restrictions that may slow the spread of the novel corona virus Trump’s company withheld millions of dollars in revenue.
With 11 hotels around the world, he is also heavily invested in the hotel business.
The business needs new people every day to come in to eat and stay. And by keeping the corona virus away, it has given this industry the worst downturn in recent history.
‘The data is bad. And we haven’t seen the worst yet, ”said Jan Freitag, senior vice president of STR, who analyzes data from the hotel industry. He found that the damage to the industry was caused by the ban and fear of the virus. “What we see here is a rapid descent that will be permanent. So it will be a worst-case combination of Post-9/11 and [the financial crisis of] 2009. ‘
So far, the Trump Organization has closed hotels in Las Vegas. Doral, Fla .; Ireland; and Turnberry, Scotland – as well as the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida and a golf club in Bedminster, N.J.. Many of the clubs closed because they had to order on local orders. Others closed on their own according to strict instructions or recommendations from local officials.
Those are six of Trump’s seven top-selling clubs and hotelsAccording to Trump’s recent financial reports, this brings in a total of around $ 174 million a year. That’s equivalent to $ 478,000 a day – revenue that is likely to decrease sharply as clubs close. The information includes self-reported sales figures, but no profits.
Trump’s personal financial concerns are compounded by funding problems.
Three of Trump’s hotels – in Doral, Chicago, and Washington – originally had outstanding loans from Deutsche Bank of more than $ 300 million. Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, all three said they were lagging behind their competitors in terms of occupancy and income. The company’s representatives were in one way or another to blame for Trump’s political rise.
[Trump Tower Chicago, which houses the Trump Hotel]
While the latter two hotels are still open, they are not doing well. For example a Article by Mr. Farenthold and colleagues on March 20, 2020, found that the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC is now only 5% full. The resulting sharp drop in sales increases the risk that the Trump organization will default on its loans.
[Interior, Trump International Hotel, Washington, DC]
Hotel closings create other personal problems for Trump
These financial threats to Trump can be compounded by threats to other benefits that have given him the characteristics of the Trump organization. Some of these properties were places of political power. Trump International in Washington DC, in particular, was the place where Trump supporters gathered and for various interests, including corporate governance and foreign governments, to influence Trump (see the extensive) Global Anti-Corruption Blog’s “Tracking Corruption and Conflicts in the Trump Administration” report section for details.)
It is also very likely that the Trump organization will also be funded by shady Russian money. How reports in Foreign Affairs in 2018,
according to several sources with knowledge of Trump’s business, Foreign money played a major role in reviving his wealth, especially in investments by rich people from Russia and the former Soviet republics. This conclusion is supported by a growing body of evidence gathered by news organizations and what is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York. It is a conclusion that even Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., seemed to confirm this and said in 2008 – after the Trump organization was successful again – that “Russians make up a rather disproportionate cross-section of many of our assets.”
Trump’s former longtime architect Alan Lapidus repeated this view in an interview with FP earlier this month. Lapidus said based on what he knew from the organization’s internal operations after Trump’s previous financial difficulties.He couldn’t get anyone in the United States to lend him anything. It all came from Russia. His commitment to Russia was deeper than he recognized. ‘
When he ran for president, Trump was caught up in this mysterious overseas capital flow that various investigators believe could contain money launderers from Russia and former Soviet republics who bought dozens of his condominiums – for a decade and a half. And Felix Sater did not accuse Cohen of a Moscow deal until mid-2016 – when Trump won the Republican nomination, according to a recent conviction record revealed by the Mueller probe.
Beyond that Craig Unger wrote in the Washington Post in 2019,
for more than three decades at least 13 people with known or alleged connections to the Russian mafia halted the acts, lived in or carried out criminal operations from the Trump Tower in New York or other Trump properties. I believe that many of them used Trump brand real estate to lunder huge amounts of money by buying multi-million dollar condominiums through anonymous shell companies. I mean that the Bayrock Group, a real estate development company that was and had its headquarters in Trump Tower Connections to the Kremlin, developed a new business model for the Trump condominium franchise after losing billions of dollars in its developments at Atlantic City Casino, and helped him get rich again.
But Trump’s relationship with the Russian underworld, a de facto state actor, has barely surfaced in the turmoil over Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.
Shady Russian operators, money launderers, the Russian mafia, and those tied to the Putin regime may not have much understanding for those in debt to those who have difficulty paying. Regardless of the form of his Russian support, his dwindling financial fortune may have led to a calm but strong overseas pressure on the Trump organization and Trump itself, prompting him to open his hospitality traits regardless of cost and expense , further increases risks for others
The illustrated conflict of interest and some dark conclusions
As Farenthold wrote,
As he tries to deal with the pandemic from the White House to limit victims and the economic impact, his company is also facing a major threat to the hotel industry.
That threatens Pull Trump in opposite directions, because the Strategies that many scientists believe will help reduce the public emergency – such as strict, permanent restrictions on movement – could deepen the short-term problems of Trump’s private businessby closing doors and keeping customers away.
As he also wrote, at the same time that Trump is under personal financial and who knows what other pressure due to the closure of his hospitality properties,
Trump is cConsiderations to relax movement restrictions earlier than recommended by federal public health expertsin the name of reducing the economic damage to the virus.
In a tweet late Sunday, Trump said the measures could be lifted as early as March 30. “We cannot allow the cure to be worse than the problem itself,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump did not specify who the cure could be worse than the illness. The obvious suspicion is that he’s talking about the effect of “healing” on … Donald Trump and his family.
This raises the strong and extremely worrying concern that he is considering measures that could endanger the lives of thousands or millions of people in order to preserve his wealth and personal power. (Maybe he’s trying to save himself from Russian retaliation?)
This is possibly the most serious and dangerous conflict of interest in healthcare that we have ever seen in the United States.
For one thing, I don’t trust Donald Trump to put the interests of the country and the lives of its citizens before his personal and financial wellbeing. As long as this terribly conflicted man rules the country, we will be in doubt and in great danger.
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