Donald Trump filed his annual, required financial disclosure form with the United States Office of Government Ethics on Tuesday, and when the OGE made the 92-page form public the following day, the big news, of course, was that Trump, for the first time in an official document, admitted that he reimbursed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
But Trump’s financial disclosure, while giving a far less complete picture of his finances than his tax returns — which he still refuses to publicly release — nonetheless contained a large amount of information about Trump’s personal and business finances, most of it having nothing to do with hush money payments.
The forms also do not give an overall picture of Trump’s actual net worth, offering a straightforward list of his personal and business income and debts. Though on the 2016 campaign trail, Trump claimed that his wealth topped $10 billion, Forbes Magazine estimates his actual worth at $3.1 billion.
At the same time, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, who has authored two books on Trump and has studied Trump’s financial situation closely, believes that Trump may have no real wealth at all — only “massive cash flow” that gives the appearance of wealth. Johnston also says “that there is not now, and never has been, a shred of verifiable evidence that Trump has ever been a billionaire.”
Read Trump’s complete 2018 financial disclosure form at this link. Below are five of the most interesting facts from the disclosure that have nothing to do with Stormy Daniels.
• Trump collects a pension from the Screen Actors Guild.
Presumably from his 13 years as star of the NBC reality competition show The Apprentice — during which time he reportedly raked in more than $213 million in salary and other payments, and was paid about $3 million per episode — Trump collected a pension from the Screen Actors Guild of $64,840 in 2017, along with another $6,453 from the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA).
Not only is Trump among the mere 31 percent of Americans who collect a pension at all, his total of $71,293 in pension payments is almost eight times higher than the median private pension payout for Americans of just $9,262.
• Despite his frequent golf trips, his golf course income dropped sharply.
In 2017, Trump’s business income from his 17 golf courses and a golf-related companies fell by $67 million — or 24 percent — from 2016, according to a CNN analysis of Trump’s financial disclosure forms filed this year and last year. The biggest drop came at his Trump National Doral golf course in Miami where Trump’s income of $74,755,375 represented a 35 percent plunge from the previous year’s disclosure report. That income is actually less than the $75 million in debt Trump is carrying on the Doral property.
Trump made 87 golf trips in 2017, according to the Trump Golf Count site, all but two of them to his own golf course properties.
• Melania Trump may have made a million dollars from photos of herself.
Trump’s financial disclosure form also contained information about income received by his wife, Melania. The 48-year-old Slovenian native and former model listed between “$100,000 — $1,000,000” in royalty income from the photo agency Getty Images. Though as First Lady, the former Melania Knauss is fair game for photographers at public events, she also maintains a large library of “rights managed” photos with the Getty agency. Each time Getty licenses use of one of her rights-managed photos, she collects a percentage of the sale price as a royalty.
Though the form listed three other business entities owned by Melania Trump, only the Getty photos produced more than $201 in income for Trump’s third wife.
• Trump collected six-figure royalties from The Art of the Deal.
The financial disclosure form lists 14 books authored by — or at least credited to — Donald Trump, including his first and still best-known book, The Art of the Deal, initially published in 1987. But while that bestseller remains a solid moneymaker for Trump — he listed “$100,000 — $1,000,000” in royalty income from the book 30 years after it was published — eight of Trump’s books including his 2007 Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life made Trump virtually no money at all. Trump listed no royalty income “or less than $201” for that book and seven others.
The only two other books for which Trump lists more than $15,000 in royalties are his 2009 Think Like a Champion, and How To Get Rich, published in 2004.
• Trump’s new Washington D.C. hotel pulled in more than $40 million.
One of Trump’s most successful ventures in 2017 was also one of his most controversial. The Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. opened just one month before the 2016 presidential election and pulled in $40.4 million in 2017 alone, according to an analysis by the USA Today newspaper. But about $350,000 of that revenue came from campaign funds, and more than half of that subtotal from Republican National Committee events held at Trump’s hotel located just one mile from the White House.
The hotel has also served as host to numerous foreign lobbyists, including from Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to the USA Today analysis. Foreign governments spending money at the hotel, according to watchdog groups, would be a violation of the Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause,” which prevents government office holders from receiving payments from foreign governments, a constitutional provision added by the framers of the Constitution to make sure that the United States government officials serve the interests of their own country and are not corrupted by foreign money.