This Week in Conflicts: Billion Dollar Loss for Trump’s Businesses, More Subpoenas and House Committee Holds Barr in Contempt


Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. (Image Credit: Gage Skidmore)

This week, the public receives the clearest picture yet of President Donald Trump’s finances and it shows huge losses, the House Judiciary Committee votes to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress and Donald Trump Jr. is subpoenaed.

Trump’s Tax Figures

A decade in the red for President Trump. That’s what an investigation from the New York Times revealed this week.

According to the investigation, “the numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.”

The story produced by the New York Times offers the most complete look, so far, of the president’s taxes. The data shows President Trump lost more money than almost any other taxpayer in the United States. These losses came at a time when the president was touting himself as a successful businessman.

“Mr. Trump built a business licensing his name, became a television celebrity and ran for the White House by branding himself a self-made billionaire,” the New York Times reports. “Yet over the years, the actual extent of his wealth has been the subject of much doubt and debate. He broke with four decades of precedent in refusing to release any of his tax returns as a presidential candidate, and until now only a few pages of his returns have become public. Last year’s Times investigation found that he had received at least $413 million in 2018 dollars from his father.”

This week the New York Senate passed a bill that would require the release of state tax returns if requested by the federal House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

CBS News reports that the bill “is likely to pass the state Assembly, which is also controlled by Democrats, and to be signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump.”

Trump Inaugural Committee

A leading contractor for President Trump’s inaugural committee is disputing accounts of her departure from the White House, according to the New York Times.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff said she was not fired and did not “personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million.” It was previously reported that White House officials said she was forced out due to reports of lavish spending on the inauguration. The committee raised more than any other committee before it, bringing in $107 million.

According to the New York Times, Wolkoff said, “she could not discuss the inaugural spending, saying that she had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the committee that had no expiration date.”

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr. (Image Credit: The United States Department of Justice)

A Subpoena and a Vote of Contempt

The entire Mueller report has not been released to Congress and the deadline to do so has passed.

After Attorney General Barr did not provide the full report to the House Judiciary Committee this week, the committee held a vote to hold him in contempt of Congress. Before the vote was finalized, President Trump invoked executive privilege over the report.  

“This protective assertion of executive privilege ensures the President’s ability to make a final decision whether to assert privilege following a full review of these materials,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd said in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee.

USA Today reports, “the decision marks the first time in Trump’s presidency that he has invoked his protective powers to withhold information from the public and likely sets up a protracted legal battle between the administration and congressional Democrats, who have been pushing for access to the full 448-page report and its underlying evidence.”

According to Politico, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman “issued a subpoena to the Justice Department on Wednesday for the unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to all of the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information collected during the 22-month investigation.

There was also another subpoena issued this week.

According to CNN, the Senate Intelligence Committee “subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. for him to return and testify again, and the committee is now at a standoff with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, according to sources familiar with the matter.”

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.