At a White House press briefing on Sunday evening, Donald Trump, for the second time this week, declined to pledge that he would not accept taxpayer cash from the coronavirus response stimulus package for his own hotels and other properties. His refusal came on the same day that the Senate rejected a $1.8 trillion stimulus package that, Democrats said, would have allowed the Trump administration to control a massive $150 billion “slush fund” that could be used to bail out his own properties.
A reporter at the White House briefing asked Trump if he would “commit publicly that no taxpayer money will go toward your own properties?” as seen in the video below on this page.
Trump responded with a lengthy answer in which he complained that “nobody said thank you” when he committed to refusing his official salary of $450,000 per year. Trump added that, in his view, if he ever took the salary, “you would go out after me like crazy.”
Trump then said he had “no idea what they’re talking about,” adding, “Everything’s changing, it’s all changing.”
“Everyone knew I was a rich person,” Trump said, as his answer to the question continued. “Let’s just see what happens.”
"Will you commit publicly that no taxpayer money will go toward your own properties?"
Trump: "Everything's changing, it's all changing… everyone knew I was a rich person… let's just see what happens."
FYI, if he won't rule it out, he's gonna do it.pic.twitter.com/caARwCMrJR
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) March 22, 2020
At a press briefing on Saturday, Trump was asked a similar question, regarding whether he would accept the stimulus funds to help his own properties, which include 11 hotels and 16 golf resorts. According to a New York Post account of that briefing, Trump responded, “I don’t know.” He did not pledge to refuse any taxpayer funds to help his own private business.
As the coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of Americans to come under “stay at home” orders in their states, and businesses across the country have been ordered to close to help curtail spread of the deadly virus, travel and hotel industries have taken large financial damage — including Trump’s hotels, as the president said on Saturday.
“Is it hurting me? Yeah, it’s hurting me, and it’s hurting Hilton, and it’s hurting all of the great hotel chains all over the world,” he said at the Saturday briefing.
On Tuesday, Trump met with executives from major hotel chains, who pleaded with him for a multibillion-dollar bailout, according to an account by Mother Jones.
As the report states, in his public financial disclosure forms for 2018, Trump claimed $434 million in revenue from his businesses. Of that total, $336 million — more than 75 percent — came from his hotels and resorts.
At the Tuesday meeting, the hotel industry executives told Trump that their industry would need $150 billion in taxpayer cash to avoid financial disaster.