Trump’s fall from grace won’t just damage his political career. His businesses will suffer too, according to a PR expert.

trump plane
Former president Trump’s business empire may be under threat.

  • Trump’s businesses will suffer in the aftermath of his presidency, PR expert Eric Schiffer told Insider.
  • Even prior to the Capitol siege, revenues at his businesses plummeted during the pandemic.
  • “If you’re a brand manager … you’d avoid Trump,” Eric Schiffer added.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s not only his political career that has been hit by former president Donald Trump’s plummeting reputation. His businesses will suffer, too.

This is the view of PR expert Eric Schiffer, who told Insider that by becoming the enemy of the people, Trump will destroy any revenue potential his brand could have had. He called it a “modern-day brand suicide.”

“There will be blood against his economic possibilities,” he added.

Trump’s businesses were already struggling

Trump boasts a business empire of roughly 500 ventures, which he controls through the Trump Organization. It includes 10 hotels and 19 golf courses alongside residential buildings, resorts, and restaurants across North America, Asia, and Europe. He has also had a career on TV, earning almost $200 million for his starring role in “The Apprentice.”

But even before the tumultuous events of 2021, in which the House of Representatives impeached him over accusations that he incited a resurrection, his businesses’ revenues were already tumbling.

His golf clubs and hotels suffered huge revenue drops in 2020, according to recent financial disclosures.

Read more: 10 huge hits to Trump’s business from the pandemic that may be permanent

Revenue from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, fell 63% from $40.5 million in 2019 to $15.1 million across 2020 and the first 20 days of 2019. Trump’s hotel-related sales in Vegas – where he owns the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas – also dropped roughly 60%.

Much of this can be attributed to travel restrictions and lockdown measures during the pandemic. But Trump’s actions as president may have impacted his businesses, too.

His net worth has fallen by $500 million since he took office in 2017, according to Bloomberg. During his presidency, Trump-branded Manhattan buildings lost half their value, too.

Council members in New York City spent years lobbying to end business contracts with the Trump Organization to manage four concessions in its park, saying Trump’s reputation was causing its profits to plummet.

The Trump branding was likely detracting people from visiting the attractions, Mark Levine, former chair of the city’s parks and recreation committee, told Insider. He called the Trump Organization’s connections with the four businesses “a stain on the city.”

“I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they just can’t bear to go to Wollman Ice Rink or the Central Park Carousel because of [Trump’s] association with it,” Levine explained.

The Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) of America canceled an event due to be held at a Trump-owned golf clubs in 2015 after the then-presidential candidate referred to Mexicans as “rapists” and people who are “bringing crime and bringing drugs.”

Then his reputation fell further

According to Schiffer, Trump already had a low reputation because of his COVID-19 mismanagement, racist comments, and baseless claims of voter fraud, thanks in part to his miscalculation that “chaos could lead to continued power.”

In the days after the Capitol siege, Trump’s reputation fell even further.

Read more: Donald Trump didn’t pardon himself. A massive tsunami of legal peril now awaits him.

His approval rating hit a historic low of 29% as his favorability with Republicans nosedived, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

On January 13, Trump became the first president to be impeached twice after the House charged him with inciting an insurrection. Ten Republicans lawmakers broke ranks with Trump and voted in favor of his impeachment.

Trump’s transition to being a private citizen again will likely make him the target of numerous legal investigations, Schiffer said, which “can turn a brand into rat poison fairly quickly.”

Any kind of legal judgment could make his supporters could back away, he added. This seismic shift away from Trump is a “further killing machine against his brand,” he said.

“If you’re a brand manager and you could have any brand to manage, you’d avoid Trump,” Schiffer added.

Read more: GOP kicks Trump to curb after deadly Capitol insurrection, leaving president to fend for himself during his historic 2nd impeachment

The Capitol siege has made the outlook even bleaker for Trump’s businesses

Top chief executives were overwhelmingly in favor of Trump’s impeachment, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of Yale’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, told Insider.

As a result, dozens of large companies pulled the plug on political donations following the Capitol siege on January 6.

But political donations aren’t the only way companies give money to politicians. When politicians double up as businesspeople, like Trump, companies can essentially be funding them by spending money at their enterprises.

In response, companies have been cutting their business ties with Trump, too.

E-scooter startup Lime became the first major company to vow never to give money to businesses connected to Trump or Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. It has also scrubbed Trump’s properties from its list of approved corporate travel hotels for its 600 employees.

E-commerce platform Shopify also removed accounts associated with Trump, including his official campaign store. Sites like shop.donaldjtrump.com and trumpstore.com can no longer be accessed.

The Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) of America, meanwhile, pulled its 2022 Championship from Trump’s New Jersey golf course, and it’s unlikely that major CEOs will continue holding events at any of Trump’s venues, Sonnenfeld told Insider.

Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank, and Professional Bank said they would no longer provide banking services to Trump or the Trump Organization.

It’s not just businesses freezing Trump out either. The City of New York is ending its business contracts with the Trump Organization after years of lobbying, and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York told Insider it’s trying to exit lease for a Manhattan office tower known as the Trump Building. The condo board of West Palm Beach’s Trump Plaza, meanwhile, voted unanimously to remove Trump from the name.

Trump’s loyalists can’t prop his businesses up

Trump still has a small group of dedicated supporters – but they won’t be enough to keep his businesses going. His loyalists “were not in many ways his core buyers,” Schiffer told Insider, noting that “many are not of high income.”

Members are even quitting Mar-a-Lago because it has become a sad and dispirited place since Trump moved in, according to the author of a book on the luxury Florida resort Trump bought in 1985.

Trump may be able to monetize from his MAGA crowd in other ways, Schiffer said, such as creating a blog or newsletter or holding ticketed events, but these won’t make up for the revenues lost through his hotels, restaurants, and golf clubs.

Read more: Trump’s business recovering may depend on him apologizing to Americans

“Trump will exit the presidency with a brutal set of targets surrounding the heart of his brand, which will be a danger to his survival economically and that of his children, and likely will lead to excruciating pain of the type he has really never faced,” he added.

His political supporters will struggle, too

It’s not just Trump who will suffer economically following his COVID-19 mismanagement, election fraud misinformation, and actions in the run-up to the Capitol siege, Schiffer believes.

It’s likely his supporters from his time in office will feel the financial implications, too.

“Those individuals are going to be in crisis,” Schiffer told Insider. “There is a movement to ensure that those that were tied to Trump are suffocated economically and do not get any opportunities.”

The editor of Forbes, Randall Lane, has urged companies not to hire communications officials from Trump’s administration, saying there should be “repercussions” for those who had lied on behalf of the then-president. Lane suggested any companies employing them would be viewed as a “potential funnel of disinformation.”

Schiffer said: “Many mainstream employers will look at anyone who worked with Trump at the White House like they are hiring the Black death.” These employers wouldn’t allow Trump’s supporters to receive a paycheck with their brand name on, he added.

An investigation by Insider showed former White House communications staff are getting snubbed while hunting for jobs. One PR recruiter told Insider they took on six former White House employees as clients, but none were able to even secure an interview with corporations they had applied to.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has also reportedly struggled to find a new role.

This backlash against Trump’s closest political allies, which also included dozens of companies halting PACs to the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, could make them rethink their stance on impeachment, experts told Insider.

“Cutting funding hits these politicians where it hurts,” Donald Hambrick, a professor of management at Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University, said. “I think senators are gonna be squirming.”

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Senators who backed Trump’s election challenge may rethink their stance on impeachment after losing corporate funding, experts say

trump
President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020.

  • The mass exodus of corporate backing could affect how senators vote on Trump’s impeachment trial, experts say.
  • Dozens of companies have pulled funding from the GOP lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification.
  • CEOs say they increasingly have no choice but to bring politics into the boardroom.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Moral convictions may not be the only reason that GOP lawmakers are turning their back on former President Donald Trump.

Lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president may also be rethinking their stance after losing corporate funding, experts told Insider.

After Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in a desperate bid to overturn the presidential election results, which turned into a violent insurrection leaving five people dead, businesses have been quick to cut ties with Trump and the lawmakers who backed his baseless claims of election fraud.

Read more: Lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters recount the harrowing experience as a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol to protest the electoral-vote count

Walmart, Amazon, and Morgan Stanley are among the companies that have cut off political funding to the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president. Hallmark went a step further, and asked Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall, who both voted against Biden’s certification, to refund its political donations.

This mass exodus of corporate backing could have an effect on politicians’ actions, experts told Insider.

“Cutting funding hits these politicians where it hurts,” Donald Hambrick, a professor of management at Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University, told Insider.

Withholding donations is “probably the more profound of the actions that can be taken,” he added.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on January 13. It’s now up to the Senate to decide whether to convict him. If he gets the two-thirds majority required to be convicted, the Senate will then hold a vote on whether to bar him from ever holding public office again.

“I think senators are gonna be squirming,” Hambrick said.

As more FBI reports and video footage of the riots are released, more companies will take action, making “senators squirm all the more,” Hambrick added. This could ultimately affect how senators vote, he said.

“These corporations could have a substantial effect on senators’ votes,” he said.

“The Senate vote could be very much not in Trump’s favor.”

Trump’s closest political allies are under pressure from some members of the party to continue supporting Trump and from companies and other politicians to pull away from him, Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Insider.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, may have begun back-pedalling in his support for Trump because of the corporate response, Hambrick said.

McCarthy/Trump
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and former president Trump, in the Oval Office.

“People are saying it’s primarily because of the corporate cuts he faces and his party faces. Observers are tracing his own about-face to these corporate cuts,” Hambrick said, citing news reports he had read.

“People have traced it to all the cuts in corporate donations, specifically to him.”

Insider contacted McCarthy’s office for comment.

Companies aren’t just removing funding

Cutting funding isn’t the only action businesses can take to cut ties with Trump and his supporters.

In recent years, companies have been increasingly grouping together to write open letters, Hambrick said, but these may not have as big an influence on politicians.

“If the Business Roundtable wrote a letter, it would have some effect, but not as much as cutting political donations,” Hambrick said.

Companies have likely cut funding to specific politicians before, Hambrick said, but “nothing on this scale, nothing with as much fanfare or visibility.”

Businesses are also taking other actions in response to the siege, but these aren’t necessarily directed at politicians, Forrest Briscoe, a professor of management at Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University, explained.

Twitter, for example, purged 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory, and Amazon Web Services, Apple, and Google were among the companies who cut ties with Parler, a social media site popular with Trump supporters.

Briscoe also referred to the New York Stock Exchange. Jeffrey Sprecher heads up its parent company, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Sprecher is married to Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, an avid Trump supporter who supported his baseless claims of election fraud.

Loeffler had been among the lawmakers planning to vote against Joe Biden’s certification as president, though she changed her mind after the siege. But her years of support for Trump could still cause businesses to rethink their relationship with the NYSE, Briscoe said.

As more information is released related to the siege, “it’s gonna be uglier and uglier, and employees and customers are gonna lean on these companies to do something and basically punish the Republicans who helped bring this about,” Hambrick said.

Companies are getting increasingly political

“A lot of us are hesitant to wade into political waters,” a CEO told Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of Yale’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, on condition of anonymity. “We don’t want to bring politics into the boardroom or to our employees.”

“But we need to recognize that threats to the rule of law are legitimate business issues,” they continued.”It’s totally legitimate and therefore also very important that we speak out on these issues.”

The number of companies responding to the Capitol siege will increase in the coming weeks, Briscoe said, and feeds into a longer-term trend of businesses becoming more political.

Their reasons for engaging in sociopolitical activism vary, he added.

“Sometimes it’s clearly in the interests of the firm, and sometimes it’s not, it’s just about values and beliefs and positions that people have as citizens or personally,” Briscoe explained.

Often, the companies decide to take action because of demand from their employees, Briscoe explained. Over recent years, staff have become increasingly vocal about their sociopolitical stances and have lobbied their companies to take action, he said. Google employees, for example, fought against Alphabet’s contract with the US government’s defense department on Project Maven, a drone warfare project – and, after months of protests, the company said it wouldn’t renew the contract.

But it’s not just employees who may have urged companies to respond to the Capitol siege.

CEOs are under pressure to consult their boards before they take actions such as cutting or limiting corporate funding, Hambrick said. And the directors may even have proposed the idea to the CEO in the first place, he added.

And here they have the backing of customers, too. Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of companies pausing funding, too, The Harris Poll found. In its survey of 1,960 Americans, nearly three in four said they support companies  pulling the plug on political donations for the time being.

Ultimately, what companies and CEOs do matters, Sonnenfeld told Insider.

“The business leaders right now are the most trusted pillar – over the clergy, public officials, even media and academic,” he said.

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From cutting all ties with Trump to pulling political donations, here’s how corporate America has responded to the Capitol insurrection

Capitol Hill dystopian
The US Capitol during riots on January 6.

  • During the US Capitol insurrection, businesses condemned the rioters. In the days after, they swapped words for concrete action.
  • Some have cut off all political funding, others have severed ties with President Donald Trump.
  • Here’s how social-media giants, banks, retailers, and other firms have reacted.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Since rioters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a desperate bid to overturn the presidential election result, top US firms have been scrambling to distance themselves from President Donald Trump and his supporters.

In the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, business leaders were quick to condemn the rioters. Then, in the days that followed, they backed up those words with actions.

Some have cut off political funding, while others, including banks and social media giants, severed their ties to President Donald Trump.

Here’s how corporate America is responding to the Capitol siege.

‘The antithesis of democracy’

First, the business world responded with words.

Both companies and individual business leaders issued statements condemning what had happened in the US Capitol. 

The language they used varied, and some gave more personal responses than others.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the attacks marked “a dark moment in our nation’s history,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said they were “the antithesis of democracy,” and American Express Chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri said they were an “egregious assault on our democracy.”

Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian was one of the first business leaders to speak out, describing the rioters as “domestic terrorists.”

Some of the responses were more surprising. Blackstone chairman, CEO, and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, a longtime Trump ally who previously defended the president’s election lawsuits, said he was “shocked and horrified” and that “there must be a peaceful transition of power” to President-elect Joe Biden.

Some CEOs demanded more direct action. Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the influential advocacy group the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents more than 14,000 member companies, called on Vice President Mike Pence and top White House officials to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump.

“This is not law and order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and it should be treated as such,” Timmons said.

Trump’s social media exodus

As the events of Wednesday unfolded, social media giants began banning Trump for their platforms.

They starting by removing a video posted by Trump on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube during the insurrection, where he failed to condemn the rioters, called them “very special,” and continued to baselessly claim that the election was fraudulent.

Facebook and Twitter were the first to take stronger action against Trump, with Facebook initially locking his account for 24 hours and Twitter for 12 hours.

Facebook then blocked Trump “indefinitely,” adding that the ban would last at least until the end of his presidency on 20 January, and Twitter followed suit the next day by permanently suspending Trump’s account.

Snapchat has said it will permanently ban Trump, and both Twitch and YouTube have limited his use of their platforms.

The wider social media purge

It wasn’t just Trump who was banned from social-media platforms. These companies targeted some of his more extreme supporters, too.

Twitter purged 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that baselessly claims Trump is working to dismantle a network of elite child-abusers who run world affairs. Supporters of the movement were seen on the front line during the Capitol siege, including a QAnon influencer dubbed the “Q Shaman.”

The site also blocked the accounts of Trump allies Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell.

After Apple and Google pulled Parler, a network popular with Trump supports, from their app stores, Amazon cut ties with the platform. Amazon Web Services (AWS) had hosted Parler’s website, so the move took Parler offline. CEO John Matze believes it may never come back.

Pulling the plug on political donations

Starting over the weekend, companies then went a step further and announced major changes to their political contribution policies.

Some companies said they would cut off donations specifically to the 147 Republican lawmakers who opposed Biden’s certification as president. These included Walmart, Amazon, Nike, Morgan Stanley, Dow, and AT&T.

Meanwhile, other companies including JPMorgan, Citibank, Facebook, Microsoft, Boeing, Visa, Deloitte, and Google have said they’re pausing all political contributions – to both Democrats and Republicans.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ford, and Bank of American told Popular Information they would review donations on an individual basis.

Hallmark went a step further still.

The greeting card company asked Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall, who both voted against Biden’s certification, to refund its political donations. It’s unknown yet whether they will.

Separately, Stripe has stopped processing donations to Trump’s campaign website, arguing that the campaign encourages violence.

Cutting corporate spending and severing business ties with Trump

Political donations aren’t the only way companies give money to politicians. When politicians double up as businesspeople, companies can essentially be funding them by spending money at their enterprises.

That’s something Lime never wants to do for Trump. The e-scooter startup has vowed never to give money to businesses connected to Trump or Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law, and has scratched Trump’s properties from its list of approved corporate travel hotels for its 600 employees.

E-commerce platform Shopify removed accounts associated with Trump, including his official campaign store. Sites like shop.donaldjtrump.com and trumpstore.com can no longer be accessed. 

The Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) of America, meanwhile, pulled its 2022 Championship from Trump’s New Jersey golf course. The PGA had previously held events at various Trump-owned golf clubs – although in 2015, it canceled an event due to be held at one, after the then-presidential candidate referred to Mexicans as “rapists” and people who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs.”

Not every company has taken a hardline approach. Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, continued to stand by Trump, 

Banks freeze Trump out

Banks are also cutting ties with Trump. Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank said they would no longer provide banking services to Trump or the Trump Organization. Professional Bank followed suit days later, just three years after it lent Trump $11.2 million in to purchase a home next to his Mar-a-Lago club for his sister.

And it’s not just businesses freezing Trump out.

The City of New York is ending its business contracts with the Trump Organization, which manages a golf course in the Bronx as well as two ice skating rinks and the carousel in Central Park. These concessions give the company an annual revenue of around $17 million.

Mark Levine, a Democratic New York City council member, told Insider the Trump Organization’s connections with the four businesses was “a stain on the city.” Levine had been pushing the city to cut ties for years, and formerly chaired its parks and recreation division. The Trump branding was likely detracting people from visiting the attractions, he said.

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Hallmark asks Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall to refund its political donations after they voted against Biden’s certification

Hawley Marshall
Senators Roger Marshall of Kansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri

  • Greeting card company Hallmark has asked two Republican senators to return its political donations after they voted against certifying Joe Biden as president on Wednesday.
  • It had donated $12,000 to Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas during the 2020 election cycle through its Political Action Committee (PAC), Popular Information reported.
  • “The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect our company’s values. As a result, HALLPAC requested Sens. Hawley and Marshall to return all HALLPAC campaign contributions.”
  • Hallmark is the first big company to ask for political donations back after pro-Trump rioters stormed Capitol on Wednesday. Others have pulled the plug on future donations.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hallmark has asked Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, two Republicans, to return its donations after they both voted against certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory Wednesday.

Hallmark is the first big company to ask for political donations back in the wake of the Capitol siege and the later vote to certify Biden as president. Some companies, including Amazon, have suspended future political contributions to Republican lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, while others have paused all donations to both Republicans and Democrats.

Through its Political Action Committee (PAC), the greeting card company has donated $5,000 to Marshall and $7,000 to Hawley over the past two years.

Congress met on Wednesday to certify the result of the US presidential election. Fueled by months of conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of election fraud from President Donald Trump and his backers, rioters stormed the Capitol. Five people died during the siege.

Congress ultimately voted to certify Biden’s win, but eight Republican senators and 139 representatives voted against this, including Hawley and Marshall. Several other GOP lawmakers who had said they would join the group dropped out following the riots.

Read more: Lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters recount the harrowing experience as a violent pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol to protest the electoral-vote count

Just hours later, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Hawley, as well as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to resign, blaming them for the violence at the Capitol.

In December, Hawley said he would object to Biden’s certification, the first senator to make the announcement. He is a staunch Trump ally.

“At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections,” he said. “But Congress has so far failed to act.”

On Monday, Hallmark asked both Hawley and Marshall to return its donations.

“Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind,” the company told Popular Information.

“The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect our company’s values. As a result, HALLPAC requested Sens. Hawley and Marshall to return all HALLPAC campaign contributions.”

Major US companies including Amazon, Morgan Stanley, and Dow have said they will cut off donations to Republican politicians who opposed Biden’s certification as president.

JPMorgan, Google, Facebook, Citibank, and Microsoft, meanwhile, are among the companies temporarily pulling the plug on all political contributions.

FedEx, Target, CVS Health, and Walmart are currently reviewing their positions on political contributions, Popular Information reported. Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ford, and Bank of America told the publication they would review donations on an individual basis.

“Just coming out with another public letter isn’t going to do much,” Thomas Glocer, the former CEO of Thomson Reuters, said on January 5 after a meeting of top CEOs to discuss the impact of pulling political donations.

“Money is the key way,” he added.

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