Will Trump's business benefit directly from an economic rescue package?

At a minimum, his response suggested that Trump is at least open to the possibility of directing federal rescue funds to his own private-sector ventures.
Image: The Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 11, 2018.
The Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. on Jan. 11, 2018.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

During yesterday's White House press briefing, a reporter asked Donald Trump about the economic stimulus package that's pending on Capitol Hill and the possible benefits for his private-sector enterprise: "Will you commit publicly that none of that taxpayer money will go towards your own personal properties?"

The president didn't answer directly, choosing instead to complain about how under-appreciated he is.

"Any time I do it, for instance, I committed publicly that I wouldn't take the $450,000 salary. It's a lot of money. Whether you're rich or not, it's a lot of money. And I did it. Nobody cared. Nobody said, 'Thank you.' Nobody said, 'Thank you very much.' Now, I didn't commit legally. I just said, 'I don't want it. I don't want my salary. I work for zero. I don't want my salary.' Nobody said, 'Oh thank you very much.' But I guarantee you if I ever took it, you would go out after me, you in particular, would go out after me like crazy."

The whining was a bit much, but it was also a non sequitur. Trump was asked about whether his business would benefit directly from a federal economic rescue, and his initial response was to talk about how no one appreciates his decision not to accept the presidential salary.

He went on to talk about how "great" his company is, though he added that he's "not running it" anymore. The latter claim is true, but it's also irrelevant: Trump still profits from the enterprise, even if he's not overseeing its day-to-day operations.

Eventually, the president got around to sort of addressing the question: "So I've learned, let's just see what happens because we have to save some of these great companies."

At a minimum, the response suggests Trump is at least open to the possibility of directing federal rescue funds to his own private-sector ventures.

During the same briefing, a reporter asked whether the president or his family sold stock investments in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. "No, I don't have stock," Trump replied. The reporter quickly followed up, asking whether he'd altered any of his investments ahead of the national crisis.

The question is of particular relevance in light of the senators facing difficult questions about fortuitous investment strategies ahead of the recent crash. In this context, Trump added, "No, I didn't even think about it. You know, it's very interesting that you ask a question like that, you know, nasty question, and yet it deserves to be asked, I guess."

The Republican soon added, "I think it's very hard for rich people to run for office."

Even now, Trump's capacity for self-pity is endless.