“I think it’s a huge problem for him,” said Michael D’Antonio, a CNN Contributor and a Trump biographer. “He created toxicity for an important part of his market. I don’t know if some will ever come back. Most brands try to avoid controversy. I feel like he’s forced the hands of the companies that decided to disengage.”
The Trump Organization owes Deutsche Bank approximately $340 million in the coming years, the person familiar with the bank’s thinking said. A spokesperson for Deutsche Bank declined to comment, citing a prohibition on discussing potential client relationships.
Properties at risk
“It could be that the opposite will be true now,” said D’Antonio. “Anyone going to DC on business would be crazy to stay at the Trump hotel unless all their business is with the Republican National Committee.”
“As we view it, for four years he violated the terms of that agreement by having a federal office holder benefit from that contract. There should be consequences of that,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a watchdog group that has been a frequent critic of Trump and his businesses.
Bookbinder said that Trump was already likely to lose some business at his hotels, including his Washington property, when he is no longer president. But the actions of last week only accelerated companies deciding to no longer do business with Trump, Bookbinder said.
“I think unquestionably he would have held on to more of it without last week’s events,” he said. “If he had emerged from this as the power center for the Republican party and the likely candidate in 2024, there would have been a lot of incentive for the RNC and others to keep holding events at his hotels.”
Bookbinder said the violence at the Capitol could also give businesses that have contracts with the Trump Organization a way to get out of those commitments.
“It’s standard for a lot of contracts to have outs if there is illegal or immoral conduct,” he said. “My guess is that a lot of companies will be eager to take advantage of those kinds of legal openings.”
Other properties with the Trump name on them could be at risk going forward. Many of those agreements are marketing deals, in which he licenses the use of his name — and brings in big bucks for doing so.
But it’s not clear how long lasting the backlash against Trump from last week’s riot will last.
“There are many times in recent years that it seemed the president crossed a line and yet things quickly went back to normal,” said Bookbinder. “I suspect that won’t be the case here.”
Trump does leave office with tens of millions of fervent fans, D’Antonio said, opening up the possibility for new business ventures and new sources of revenue, even if he’s closed the door on other business relationships.
There was a lot of speculation before last Wednesday that Trump would start his own media company upon leaving office. Despite the blowback from the Capitol attack, that’s still a possibility D’Antonio said.
“How long would broadcasters or others be able to resist the money?” he said.
So it’s possible that even if Trump severely damaged his brand last week, his overall business outlook is in better shape today than it was before he started his campaign for president in 2015, just because of the loyalty he’s built up with a large part of the country over the last five years.
“I don’t know that the demographic of his absolute die hard base is a good fit for his high end businesses,” D’Antonio said. “They can’t pay hundreds of dollars a night to stay at some of his properties or belong to his country clubs. But the whole campaign was started as a branding exercise. I think in terms of mass market, he’s better off.”
— Charles Riley contributed reporting.