Trump Name Forcibly Removed from Panama Hotel
The President suffered a setback in his other job yesterday.
The identical story with different bylines appears at both WaPo (“Trump’s name is stripped from Panama hotel“) and NYT (“Panama Hotel Owner Declares Victory and Trump’s Name Is Removed“):
A workman wielding a crowbar pried off the silver T-R-U-M-P name from the Trump International Hotel and Tower here in Panama City on Monday as the majority owner of the hotel declared victory in his fight to oust the American president’s family business as managers of the property.
The president’s company, the Trump Organization, fired back with its own statement disputing that it permanently lost control of the property, its only current hotel venture in Latin America. The developments on Monday, the company said, actually “maintain the status quo.”
The dueling interpretations of the day’s events reflected the chaotic nature of a dispute that has become an international spectacle and one of the biggest problems facing the president’s company.
The standoff has been playing out for nearly two weeks behind the scenes in Panamanian courtrooms and ministry offices as well as in plain sight in the hotel’s lobby and corridors.
The ownership dispute at the property has been punctuated by yelling and shoving matches, appearances by armed police officers and visits by government delegations, including Panamanian labor regulators, forensic specialists and a justice of the peace.
The Monday showdown at the hotel began with the arrival of the majority owner, Orestes Fintiklis, 39, followed by a contingent of court officials and police officers — and a Panamanian court order authorizing a change of administration.
Soon after, a workman from the property peeled off the Trump name from the hotel’s sign, dumped the letters in a plastic storage box and hauled them away in the back seat of a Hyundai hatchback. It was unclear who had authorized the workman to erase the Trump name.
“This is a purely commercial dispute that just spun out of control,” Mr. Fintiklis said in a brief impromptu news conference in the hotel’s lobby. “And today this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country.”
“Today Panama has made us proud,” he said. In appreciation of the outcome, the businessman added, he planned to apply for Panamanian citizenship.
Mr. Fintiklis, a Cypriot citizen, then strode to the lobby’s baby grand piano and played and sang “Accordeon,” a popular Greek song about the fight against fascism.
Well, alrighty then.
The fight has been fraught with legal and diplomatic complexities. The court found itself in the awkward position of ruling against a business owned by the American president.
Mr. Trump’s critics and ethics groups had warned of such an outcome when he declined to divest from his company.
The drama in Panama is unfolding while the Trumps are struggling to get two new hotel lines — Scion and American Idea — off the ground in the United States. In the aftermath of the election, the Trumps found that new voluntary ethics requirements they adopted are impeding these new deals.
There’s simply no way to square “ethics” with the President and his top advisors owning a hotel company. “Awkward” doesn’t come close to describing the position foreign governments are in when dealing with offers from the head of the world’s most powerful country to build a hotel in their country.
ABC (“Police evict Trump staff from Panama hotel amid ongoing dispute“) adds:
More than a dozen police wearing bulletproof vests entered the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Panama on Monday morning and evicted the Trump Organization’s staff, a move that comes after weeks of simmering tensions over control of the property.
Photos of the office obtained by ABC News building indicate that while the Trump employees left peaceably, they allegedly took some of the building’s computer equipment with them.
That’s . . . not a good look.