PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his company’s decision to furlough hundreds of employees because of the coronavirus pandemic, after his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida revealed this week it is temporarily laying off 153 workers.
Speaking at the White House, Trump said, “You can’t have many hundreds of employees standing around doing nothing,” noting that local social-distancing prohibitions have closed clubs, hotels and even golf courses. “There’s no customer. You’re not allowed to have a customer.”
It isn’t the only Trump resort in Florida to furlough workers. The Trump National Doral Miami resort where the president wanted to host this year’s Group of Seven summit has laid off 560 workers.
The Trump Organization, separately, reportedly has sought rent relief from its landlord, the federal government, at the Trump hotel located in the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., near the White House.
JUST POSTED: Trump’s family company has asked Trump administration for a break on its rent at the federally owned Old Post Office building where Trump runs his luxury hotel. A conflict? You can decide. @davidenrich @SteveEder @benprotess https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/business/trump-hotel-rent-payment-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage …
Trump (the Company) Asks Trump (the Administration) for Rent Relief
The president’s family business pays at least $3 million a year to the federal government for the lease on its D.C. hotel, which is all but empty because of the virus. The next monthly payment is…
Oversight Chair Maloney: “If these new reports are accurate, it appears that the President’s company is now seeking rent reductions from GSA—which of course reports to him … It is time for GSA to finally stand up to the President & grant no rent reductions for the Trump Hotel.”
The federal government’s economic relief bill specifically bars Trump’s businesses, as well as those with ties to other top government officials and members of Congress and their immediate families, from receiving emergency loans and other benefits meant to help businesses retain workers during the virus crisis.
The club’s director of human resources, Janine Gill, wrote in a letter to state and local officials that Mar-a-Lago began halting business last month as a result of mandated closures issued in Palm Beach County in response to the virus’s spread in South Florida.
The furloughs are temporary, but the club doesn’t know when it will resume regular operations, Gill said.
None of the workers are unionized.
The furloughed workers at Mar-a-Lago include bartenders, cooks, dishwashers, drivers, attendants, housekeepers, servers and valet attendants.
Mar-a-Lago serves as Trump’s refuge from Washington — he has sought to install it in the popular imagination as his “Winter White House” — and the president often spends his time there mixing work, business and pleasure in the company of dues-paying members.
Originally Published on MarketWatch
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