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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Trump's Business in the Plague Year

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  

Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.  One challenge is the president's role as a businessman.

 Peter Baker, Katie Rogers, David Enrich and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
Day after day, the salesman turned president has encouraged coronavirus patients to try hydroxychloroquine with all of the enthusiasm of a real estate developer. The passing reference he makes to the possible dangers is usually overwhelmed by the full-throated endorsement. “What do you have to lose?” he asked five times on Sunday.
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If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.
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Some associates of Mr. Trump’s have financial interests in the issue. Sanofi’s largest shareholders include Fisher Asset Management, the investment company run by Ken Fisher, a major donor to Republicans, including Mr. Trump. A spokesman for Mr. Fisher declined to comment.

Another investor in both Sanofi and Mylan, another pharmaceutical firm, is Invesco, the fund previously run by Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. Mr. Ross said in a statement Monday that he “was not aware that Invesco has any investments in companies producing” the drug, “nor do I have any involvement in the decision to explore this as a treatment.”
As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.
Ashleigh Koss, a Sanofi spokeswoman, said the company no longer sells or distributes Plaquenil in the United States, although it does sell it internationally.
Several generic drugmakers are gearing up to produce hydroxychloroquine pills, including Amneal Pharmaceuticals, whose co-founder Chirag Patel is a member of Trump National Golf Course Bedminster in New Jersey and has golfed with Mr. Trump at least twice since he became president, according to a person who saw them.
Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold at WP: 
The Trump Organization has laid off or furloughed about 1,500 employees at hotels in the United States and Canada as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts further pain on the president’s private business.

With most of President Trump’s hotels and clubs closed amid stay-at-home orders around the world, the Trump Organization has responded by slashing costs, much like other companies in the hospitality and tourism industries. The Trump Organization has laid off or furloughed employees at hotels in New York, the District of Columbia, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Honolulu, according to public filings and people familiar with the properties, including union officials.
David Enrich, Ben Protess and Eric Lipton at NYT:
Representatives of Mr. Trump’s company have recently spoken with Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest creditor, about the possibility of postponing payments on at least some of its loans from the bank.
And in Florida, the Trump Organization sought guidance last week from Palm Beach County about whether it expected the company to continue making monthly payments on county land that it leases for a 27-hole golf club.
...
Yet the company, which has a portfolio of more than a dozen golf clubs and luxury hotels in the United States and overseas, has opted to keep some of its properties open absent government orders to close, in contrast with the widespread shutdowns by some larger hotel chains.