Report: Trump Organization Seeks Financial Help During Coronavirus Outbreak
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has businesses all over the country looking for help. Many are asking their lenders for a little extra time to pay back loans. Well, according to new reporting by The New York Times, among those companies is the Trump Organization. David Enrich is the business investigations editor for The New York Times. He joins me now.
DAVID ENRICH: Hello.
KELLY: Hey. So according to your story, the Trump Organization is asking its major lender, Deutsche Bank, to delay loan payments. How much money are we talking about? What were these loans for?
ENRICH: Well, Deutsche Bank, over the past 20 years, has lent almost $2 billion to Donald Trump and his companies. Right now, as far as we know, there's about $350 million outstanding, and those were from loans that were helping Trump build a luxury hotel in Washington, D.C., purchase a golf course and golf resort in Florida and for work on a big skyscraper he has on Chicago.
KELLY: Is Deutsche Bank sounding as though they are likely to agree? Have they made a decision?
ENRICH: Well, I think it's very early stages in these discussions. But Deutsche Bank has had this very long, very tortured relationship with Donald Trump, where over and over again in the past, Trump has defaulted on loans or stopped payment of some sort. And Deutsche Bank has been faced with this choice, one time after another, of, do we double down on our relationship with this man, or do we cut our losses and move on? And basically, without fail, the bank has chosen to continue doing business with Trump.
And the difficult thing now for the bank is that while it might seem prudent for them to kind of cut their losses at this point, this is the president of the United States.
ENRICH: And he wields enormous power over the bank.
KELLY: Yeah. I mean, I'm imagining all kinds of potential conflicts of interest here. If a company owned (ph) by the president of the United States is asking for relief on financial obligations, you know, the position that puts the organization that the money is owed to is incredibly complicated.
ENRICH: Yeah, and this is something that Deutsche Bank executives - I mean, I've been talking to executives there for a few years now, and this is something that they've been worried about for a very long time, exactly this type of situation, where they are forced to choose between doing what seems like it's financially right for the bank and for its regulators versus doing what's right to protect the relationship with someone who has the ability to inflict enormous damage on the institution if he is so inclined. And so I think the bank is stuck in a really difficult place.
And this just really highlights, for, you know, the umpteenth time here, the perils of having someone in the Oval Office who is not - who owns huge swaths of businesses and has refused to divest them or be fully transparent about what he owns and whom he owes money to.
KELLY: We should...
ENRICH: So it's a very tricky, messy situation.
KELLY: Yeah. We should mention it's not just Deutsche Bank; there was also an informal request made, you report, to Palm Beach County.
ENRICH: Yeah. He, Trump - the Trump Organization has leased about 300 acres of land down in Palm Beach County, Fla., for its - for a large golf course down there. And this is a lease that goes back more than 20 years now. And every month, the Trump organization has to pay tens of thousands of dollars in, essentially, rental payments to Palm Beach County.
And last week, an official from the Trump organization reached out and told them that they want to see if there's a possibility of reducing or delaying payment. So that's something that the Palm Beach County is currently looking at, is our understanding.
KELLY: Just briefly, does this shed any light on how the Trump companies are doing overall?
ENRICH: Yeah, it suggests that they are under severe financial pressure, and their hotel business, golf business, restaurant businesses are all essentially shut for the most part. And, you know, this is a problem...
ENRICH: They find themselves in the same position as many other businesses nationwide right now.
KELLY: David Enrich - he's the business investigations editor for The New York Times and author of "Dark" Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump And An Epic Trail Of Destruction." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.