Bloomberg has a long look at how the Trump brothers have been “running” the family business while papa Trump does, well, whatever it is that Donald Trump thinks his day job is. The short version is that very little has changed.
Trump, of course, pledged “no new deals” on Twitter soon after his election. […] In practice, he put his businesses into a revocable trust controlled by Donald Jr., Eric, and the Trump Organization’s finance chief, Allen Weisselberg. He then watered the original pledge down to something more limited: no U.S. deals without “rigorous vetting” by a Trump-appointed ethics adviser, and no foreign deals with partners the company defines as new. As their first months running the company demonstrate, that gives the brothers all the room they need. While their father governs, and tweets, they are running the business pretty much the way Dad did.
“The way Dad did,” of course, means the same sort of sketchy business practices that have gotten Donald Golden Toilet Trump in so much trouble over the years. It’s rubbed off on Donald Golden Toilet Jr. and crew, and the running theme through all of these Trump ventures is a bizarre, off-putting pettiness to the schemes:
In 2006 there was Trump Mortgage LLC, run by an acquaintance of Donald Jr.’s who was billed as a former “top executive at one of Wall Street’s most prestigious investment banks.” Money magazine later reported he’d been a registered broker at Morgan Stanley for six days. The business shut within 18 months. In 2010, at the height of desperation in the job market after the Great Recession, Donald Jr. lent the family name to Cambridge Who’s Who, a directory of business professionals. Former telemarketers recall dropping Donald Jr.’s name while trying to sell memberships at $1,000 (then $600, $300, and finally $99). The company, run by someone who’d been barred from the securities industry for hiring an impostor to take his exam, later paid $29,500 to resolve an investigation by Oregon officials who accused it of using high-pressure sales tactics to deceive customers. (The company admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.)
By then, Donald Jr. had moved on to another gig promoting a maker of mobile applications whose main asset was a patent it used to sue dozens of much larger companies.
So a dodgy mortgage business launched just before the mortgage markets collapsed outright, a run-of-the-mill pay-for-prestige book scheme, and being the front man for a patent troll. This is how billionaires make a living?
Bloomberg’s report may also be a window, however, into the various schemes that the Trump family may be cooking up next, with the man himself at an Oval Office desk and his family running the shop in his temporary absence. The notion of cashing in on the presidency with a line of cheap America-themed hotels is still one of the top ideas, and that’s just sad no matter who you are, but heaven knows Donald has been dedicated to using the presidency as publicity tour for his brands and properties. Don’t be surprised if he jets down to a nondescript patch of Caribbean land called Cap Cana for one of his next big public announcements. It’s not much to look at now, but he knows a guy.