2020-01-02 — nytimes.com
President Trump is already rich and famous and inclined to treat the federal government like his own personal toy chest. What on earth can you get a guy like this?
Attorney General Bill Barr seems to have hit upon the perfect solution. On Sunday, Mr. Barr is hosting a "Family Holiday Party" for 200 of his closest friends at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. The annual soiree, which Mr. Barr is paying for himself, is expected to deliver the president's business around $30,000. According to the Justice Department, the attorney general went with the Trump property only after other venues fell through, and he is not -- repeat, not -- looking to curry favor with his boss.
Whatever your price point, nothing says, "Thanks for being such a swell leader!" quite like shoveling gold into the Trump family vault.
Admittedly, Mr. Barr is not the first Trump courtier to discover the charms of the president's properties. Congress members, lobbyists, foreign officials, Republican political candidates and party organizations -- the parade of people making pilgrimages is long and distinguished. Since 2017, watchdog groups and social media accounts have tracked visits to Trump properties by at least 90 members of Congress, 250 Trump administration officials (including 24 cabinet members) and more than 110 foreign officials from around 60 countries.
These visitors have done their part to help shore up the Trump Organization's bottom line. As The Times noted in September, Federal Election Commission records show that "since January 2017, at least $5.6 million has been spent at Trump properties by political candidates or party organizations, including by Mr. Trump's own political operation, according to an analysis by Public Citizen." By contrast, "In the four years before Mr. Trump's bid for president, these same hotels and other venues collected a total of only $119,000 in federally regulated payments from political groups."
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