- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

President Trump’s bankers are walking away from him after the riot at the Capitol, deepening the uncertainty about the future of his business empire as he prepares to leave office next week.

Adding to the growing list of companies and social media platforms that are “canceling” Mr. Trump, the city of New York said it is reviewing whether to terminate its business relationship with his company to run entertainment concessions, including two Central Park skating rinks, that bring in $17 million per year.

Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank have decided to end their business relationships with the president, cutting off what had been an important source of money for the Trump Organization before Mr. Trump was elected.

The president owes more than $300 million to Deutsche Bank, whose headquarters are in Frankfurt, Germany. The loans are due within the next four years. Bloomberg first reported the company’s decision.

Signature Bank, where Mr. Trump has checking and money market accounts, said it is also terminating its business with him. The bank called on Mr. Trump to resign in the wake of his supporters storming the Capitol.

“We have never before commented on any political matter and hope to never do so again,” the bank said in a statement. “We witnessed the president of the United States encouraging the rioters and refraining from calling in the National Guard to protect the Congress in its performance of duty. To ensure the peaceful transition of power, we believe the appropriate action would be the resignation of the president of the United States, which is in the best interests of our nation and the American people.”

The president insisted Tuesday that his speech last week to tens of thousands of supporters in Washington did not incite the deadly riot.

“People thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

He said Big Tech is making a “terrible mistake” by banning him and called the moves “very bad for our country.”

“And that’s leading others to do the same thing, and it causes a lot of problems and a lot of danger,” Mr. Trump said. “They shouldn’t be doing it, but there’s always a counter move when they do that.”

The social media ban cuts off the president’s preferred method of communicating with his supporters. After Jan. 20, it also will block a cheap and easy way for Mr. Trump to promote his business.

The social media shunning has spread to other sources of potential income for Mr. Trump. The PGA announced that it will pull out of its championship golf tournament scheduled for next year at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Shopify has terminated stores affiliated with the president, and Stripe has stopped processing payments on the Trump campaign website.

Neither the president nor the Trump Organization has commented on any of the companies’ decisions.

Pope McCorkle, a director at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, said Mr. Trump likely has harmed his business prospects through his actions in the final weeks of his presidency.

“It was such an easy scenario for him to walk out of office, and to have his political and economic brand intact,” Mr. McCorkle said in an interview. “And he seems to have thrown that away just out of the lack of restraint.”

He pointed to Mr. Trump’s secrecy about his income and tax records.

“We don’t know what his exact financial situation is,” Mr. McCorkle said. “He could really be endangering his brand simply because he’s cutting off all sources of money.”

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, now a bitter critic of the president, said Mr. Trump is facing a post-presidency in which voters and potential customers will judge him only on the tragedy at the Capitol.

“There’s before the riot, and there’s after, and that’s all that matters,” Mr. Cohen said on his podcast this week. “Wednesday, January 6, is all that people will remember about Donald J. Trump. It will be his legacy. He propelled his ‘MAGA’ army into attacking the nation’s Capitol. That’s it. Everything else he did, good, bad and ugly, is bracketed underneath images of marauding truck drivers ransacking the cradle of democracy.”

Even before the backlash over the riot, the COVID-19 pandemic had devastated the tourism and entertainment industries, such as the casinos, hotels and golf courses that are important parts of the Trump empire.

Mr. Trump’s golf properties had been losing money for years before the pandemic. According to a New York Times investigation of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, he has reported losing a combined $315.6 million at his golf courses over the past two decades.

In Mr. McCorkle’s view, it adds up to the president facing a need to “try to reinvent himself on the right-wing spectrum of the media” after he leaves office.

“Maybe he can find some business life after the presidency, but also connected with politics. It’s certainly limiting,” he said.

Other former presidents have signed lucrative book deals with publishers after leaving office, and Mr. McCorkle said Mr. Trump is likely to do the same. He published bestsellers before entering public office, although one of Mr. Trump’s biggest financial successes was his 14-year run as a reality TV star. His turn on “The Apprentice” earned him more than $420 million.

The president has considered starting his own conservative news network or joining a similar media outlet, according to people familiar with his thinking. He has also kept open the option of running for the presidency again in 2024.

One of the president’s wealthiest political backers, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, died late Monday at age 87. He and his wife, Miriam, donated tens of millions of dollars to Trump-connected campaign committees and other advocacy groups in the unsuccessful reelection effort.

“The world has lost a great man. He will be missed,” Mr. Trump said.

In addition to financial and political uncertainties, Mr. Trump is facing possible legal jeopardy when he leaves office.

The Trump Organization is under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and New York attorney general into suspected defrauding of Deutsche Bank by allegedly inflating the value of its assets. Both offices have subpoenaed the bank about its loans with the firm.

Christiana Riley, the head of U.S. operations for Deutsche Bank, condemned the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol last week.

“We are proud of our Constitution and stand by those who seek to uphold it to ensure that the will of the people is upheld and a peaceful transition of power takes place,” she wrote on LinkedIn.

New York City officials said Monday that they were reviewing whether they could legally terminate the city’s business relationship with the Trump Organization, which runs a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks. Laura Feyer, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said the review was prompted by Mr. Trump’s alleged incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol.

“The attacks on our Capitol killed a police officer, left four rioters dead, exposed lawmakers to COVID-19 and threatened the constitutional transfer of power. They were a national abomination,” she said. “We’re reviewing whether legal grounds exist in light of these new circumstances to terminate concessions with the Trump Organization.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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