The president’s son appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”
Responding to a report that found that hundreds of corporations, special interest groups and foreign governments seeking government benefits patronized Trump Organization properties in recent years, the president’s son argued Sunday that the groups represent a small proportion of their business and that his father has not benefited monetarily from his office.
The comments come a day after a New York Times story stated that President Trump “transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.” The article, citing the president’s tax records, reports that of the hundreds of individuals and entities seeking favor, “60 customers with interests at stake before the Trump administration brought his family business nearly $12 million during the first two years of his presidency.”
“Almost all saw their interests advanced, in some fashion, by Mr. Trump or his government,” the news story continues.
On “This Week,” Eric Trump, echoed his father’s rhetoric, called the newspaper “fake news” and implied without evidence that the report — one of several in the past two weeks concerning the president’s finances — was timed to hurt his reelection campaign.
Pressed by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl about the president’s debt, which the Times wrote was over $400 million, Eric Trump characterized it as commonplace for someone with his level of wealth in the highly leveraged real estate industry. He also misleadingly claimed that all of the president’s lenders are publicly known.
“It’s in his financial disclosures,” Eric Trump said, referring to the annual reports the president is required to issue under federal ethics regulations. President Trump does not voluntarily release his tax returns, as other chief executives have done. “You know exactly who the money’s owed to … my father is worth billions of dollars, and on a proportion of his net worth, my father has very, very low leverage.”
“If you own buildings, if you own real estate, you carry some debt. That’s what developers do, that’s what business owners do, they carry some debt,” he continued. “We have a phenomenal company, but there’s nothing new about that, and by the way, it’s the same debt that he got elected on.”
In the interview, Eric Trump also responded to the president’s refusal to participate in a virtual debate this coming week, as planned by the Commission on Presidential Debates in the wake of the president’s contraction of COVID-19 and subsequent hospitalization. As a result, the debate was canceled and it is not immediately clear what form the final scheduled debate will take.
“My father wants to stand on stage with his opponent. That’s how debates have been handled in America for the last 200 years, you’ve stood there and you’ve debated somebody,” Eric Trump said. In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon debated on-camera from opposite coasts, appearing on television in a split-screen.
“My father doesn’t want to do it over a glorified conference call,” he continued. “He wants to stand on the stage to look somebody in the eyes.”
Earlier in the day, the president delivered an address similar in content to a campaign speech at what the administration called a “peaceful protest for law and order” on the White House South Lawn. He heads to Florida Tuesday to restart official in-person campaign events with a rally in Sanford.
In the 10 days since the president’s positive test, Eric Trump and fellow first family members have served as surrogates in his wake. On Thursday, Eric Trump attended an event in North Carolina, while his brother, Donald Trump Jr., traveled to both the Tar Heel State and Florida in the past three days.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.