The government of Qatar appears to be paying President Donald Trump for a seemingly empty office space in San Francisco, albeit through an intermediary company that Trump owns a 30 percent stake in. Still, the arrangement raises the question — are the payments meant to sway political favor for the Qataris? Are the payments a cover for some other sort of scheme? Although the amount that the Qatari government pays in rent is not publicly available, why is a foreign government funneling any amount of money at all to the president of the United States under the obviously hollow pretense of renting an office space? Reporter Dan Alexander discovered that the office in question was empty when he went to investigate in person.
As Alexander explains, the Qataris’ rent money “appears to go from the U.S. subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund, to HWA 555 Owners LLC.” The “Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust owns 30% of HWA 555 Owners LLC,” according to Alexander, and that trust, as the name suggests, holds the personal assets of Donald Trump. At this present point in time, it’s not even a company thing — it’s just Donald Trump. If Qatar has been paying a rental price on par with the average for the building, then that would be $450,000 a year, with about $135,000 for Trump — although without confirmation otherwise, there’s a possibility that the rental price is higher.
The Qataris’ rental arrangement has been going on since at least August 2018 — which is, of course, after Donald Trump took office as president, which adds some more weight to the possibility that the rental is at least part of some kind of effort to secure political favor for the Qataris. In 2018, President Trump reversed an earlier administration stance against Qatar, who the Trump White House had previously accused of supporting terrorism. There’s an already well-documented lobbying campaign that took place on the behalf of the Qatari government.
Trump has faced plenty of scrutiny for his financial holdings in the past. This situation is far from the first time that a foreign government has seemed to be pouring money into the president’s accounts. For instance, shortly after Trump’s election, the Saudi government spent $270,000 at Trump’s D.C. hotel, although the Trump Organization said that they would donate the money to the Treasury Department.