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Politics Eric Trump Steers Family Empire Under Father's Close Watch

15:41  29 june  2020
15:41  29 june  2020 Source:   online.wsj.com

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The family of Donald Trump , the owner of the Trump Organization and 45th president of the United During the campaign, they served as surrogates for their father on national news programs. Following the inauguration, Donald Jr. and Eric took charge of the family ' s real estate empire .

Eric Trump wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone © Tyler Tomasello/Zuma Press

On March 17, Eric Trump received word from the Nevada governor’s office that he had 24 hours to shut the Las Vegas hotel operated by the family business. Within days, most of the Trump Organization’s other properties would also be effectively closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the 36-year-old son of the president facing one of the company’s biggest crises in decades.

Soon after, President Trump in a nationally televised news conference took a subtle dig at his son, joking that he looked forward to comparing his record running the family business to his children’s. “I think I’ll do better,” the president said.

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Our father ’ s estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities By 1940, American Builder magazine was taking notice, devoting a spread to Fred Trump under the headline Donald Trump simply appropriated his father ’ s entire empire as his own.

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When the elder Trump took office, he took his daughter Ivanka with him to the White House. His eldest son Donald Jr. quickly turned to politics. That left Eric as the de facto chief executive of the sprawling real-estate business that his father built.

Eric Trump says his record will stand up to his father’s scrutiny. Despite limits on the company’s expansion and investigations into its business dealings, Eric Trump says 2019 was one of the company’s most profitable years. “We have never been stronger,” he said.

He predicts that after his father leaves office, the Trump Organization will launch a major expansion that will in part focus on luxury hotels abroad. The company has previously eyed projects in the Middle East and China, a country the president has frequently criticized on trade, Covid-19 and other issues.

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Eric Trump has hit back at allegations that his father took money intended for childhood cancer research and poured them into his own businesses by Eric Trump has said use of the family property meant almost all the donations made it to the hospital, which is a centre for cancer research.

Frederick Christ Trump (October 11, 1905 – June 25, 1999) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was a prominent real-estate developer in New York City.

Democrats have accused the president and his company of seeking to profit off the presidency, which the company has denied. The firm declined to provide recent performance data for this article. President Trump’s 2019 financial disclosure, expected to be released by the Office of Government Ethics this week, will shed light on how the business was performing before the coronavirus hit.

At the peak of the shutdowns, Trump hotel and golf properties were losing more than $1 million a day in revenue, a Wall Street Journal analysis of industry data showed. Executives say steady cash flows from other businesses such as commercial office space helped offset these losses.

Under Eric Trump’s watch, the company says it has paid down tens of millions of dollars in debt over the last few years, which has helped it weather the crisis.

Long before Covid-19 hit, Eric Trump faced scrutiny from his father over his handling of the family business. President Trump after he took office began regularly quizzing employees at Trump properties he visited about how his son was doing, advisers to the president said. The president likes to “give him a little bit of s—” to keep him on his toes, one adviser said, but added that Mr. Trump has confidence in his son.

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President Trump, in a statement provided by the White House, called Eric an “outstanding young man who has never let me down” and said “the company is in good hands.”

While the president lavishes praise on Ivanka and veers between delight and frustration with Donald Jr., he takes a more even keel toward Eric, the advisers said.

One adviser who knows the family said each of Mr. Trump’s children have inherited elements of the president’s personality: Donald Jr. adopted the “flamboyant, kind of playboy style,” Ivanka got the people skills and Eric became “the operational builder.”

“Eric is the money guy,” said Phil Ruffin, a friend of President Trump and the co-owner of the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.

The president has been at times critical of his son’s handling of scrutiny from federal and state investigators, who have probed matters at the Trump Organization and the Trump Foundation that predated Eric Trump’s leadership. The president privately told advisers his son doesn’t “know how to play the game,” a former administration official said.

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In one case, a judge ordered the president to pay $2 million to a group of charities to settle a lawsuit that accused his charity—where Eric Trump served on the board—of illegally helping his 2016 campaign. The Trump Organization has also faced probes by federal, state and congressional investigators into whether its executives violated campaign-finance laws and into the president’s personal finances.

Other than Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization lawyer who pleaded guilty to a range of charges in 2018, no Trump Organization executive has been charged. The president and his company have denied wrongdoing.

Eric Trump said the president scrutinized him just like any proud father who “wants to check up on his family,” but acknowledged that the questions his father posed to employees were a test, too. “I don’t know in my career if I’ve ever failed that test,” he said.

President Trump handed control of the business to his children before his inauguration, but retained ownership of its holdings, an arrangement that has drawn criticism and lawsuits from Democrats and ethics advocates. Donald Jr. holds the same title as Eric—executive vice president—but is less involved in the business than his brother, associates say.

President Trump is unusual among wealthy people of his age for holding on to assets rather than passing some to his children to reduce the family’s potential tax bill, experts in taxes and estate planning say. One of the few assets Eric Trump owns outright is the Trump Winery in Virginia. Even there, his father owns the vineyards surrounding the winery, according to public records and the president’s financial disclosures.

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Now, Eric Trump faces the complicated task of reopening the company’s properties, despite the rising Covid-19 case count in several states. Trump National Doral Miami, one of the Trumps’ biggest revenue generators, has reopened amid record new numbers of virus cases in Florida.

Once the business stabilizes and the president is out of office, Eric Trump said one focus will be expanding the Trump Organization’s luxury-hotel operations. He believes the company can offer superior services to rival high-end brands, particularly overseas, where its planned expansion was halted when the president took office.

The Trump Organization’s aim is to serve as a hotel operator in new international projects, rather than owning them outright, executives say. The strategy fits with Eric Trump’s goal of low leverage for the business, unlike his father, who has called himself the “king of debt.”

“We will never be a company that carries a large debt burden,” Eric Trump said.

But after Donald Trump leaves office, the company may need to grapple with the brand’s connection to a president whose approval numbers have been consistently below 50%. Since 2016, residents in at least a half-dozen Trump properties in New York City voted to remove the Trump name from the buildings’ exterior. Owners of the former Trump International Hotel in Panama in 2018 stripped the Trump name from the building.

The Trump Organization meanwhile wants to sell the rights to its Washington, D.C., hotel, which many hotel owners and brokers viewed as a sign the Trump family may be concerned the property’s value will drop when Mr. Trump leaves office.

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People involved in the Trump businesses believe attitudes toward President Trump will soften once he leaves office. Eric Trump argues that his father’s base of supporters still could be a benefit.

“If you have 10 hotels in a market and 50% of the people definitely want to go to one of them, that’s a whole lot better than being one of the 10 where 100% are indifferent,” Eric Trump said.

Less than five months from the election, Eric Trump’s efforts to campaign on behalf of his father are expected to intensify. Last month, he urged the campaign to go after Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, when he told a black radio host that if he was struggling to decide whether to support Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump “then you ain’t black.” (Mr. Biden quickly apologized and said he was joking.)

While advisers say Eric Trump prefers more of a behind-the-scenes role, he also frequently takes to TV and Twitter to defend the president. This spring, he accused Democrats of exaggerating the dangers of Covid-19, which has killed more than 120,000 Americans to date, in order to hurt his father’s campaign.

“They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time,” he told Fox News in May.

A Biden campaign spokeswoman called the comment “unbelievably reckless.”

As the Trump Organization weighs the possibility its namesake will leave the White House next year, people close to the president are divided over whether he would push aside his son and run the business again or continue focusing on politics or the media.

Mr. Ruffin, the Trumps’ Las Vegas partner, predicted that the president would return to his 26th floor office in Trump Tower in New York City—“He won’t be able to help himself”—but that Eric Trump would continue running the company day to day.

“Donald will tell him how to expand,” Mr. Ruffin said. The White House didn’t respond to a question about whether the president would let Eric continue to run the company after he leaves office.

Write to Brian Spegele at brian.spegele@wsj.com and Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

Mary Trump levels scathing criticism of President in new book obtained by CNN .
Donald Trump's niece Mary Trump levels scathing criticism of the President in her forthcoming book, accusing him of being a "sociopath" and charging that Trump's "hubris and willful ignorance" dating back to his early days threatens the country. © Simon & Schuster Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump from Simon & Schuster Mary Trump's book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," accuses Donald Trump's father of creating a toxic family dynamic that best explains how the President acts today.

usr: 3
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