Trump’s Opening the Country Council Includes Roster of His Real Estate Allies


President Donald Trump’s hastily assembled economic recovery taskforce, known as the “Opening the Country Council,” includes several of his real estate and construction allies among its 200 members.

The corporate panel will advise the White House on digging the U.S. out of what could be its worst recession since the Great Depression, triggered by the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the tri-state area. The lengthy list features executives from several industries, including retail, manufacturing, banking, health care, energy, tech and defense. But the real estate, hospitality and construction members are interesting because a few have appeared on a different Trump task force — his 2017 infrastructure council. Others are well-established connections from his years as a developer and hotelier in New York City.

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Simon Property Group’s David Simon, Blackstone (BX)’s Jon Gray, Related CompaniesStephen Ross, Irvine Company’s Donald Bren, Starwood (STWD) Capital Group’s Barry Sternlicht and Witkoff Group’s Steve Witkoff are all on the list. Naturally, it also includes Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) CEO Steven Roth, whose previous claims to fame include leading the president’s now-disbanded infrastructure council. Trump donor and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone — who is the chair of trustees at New York University’s Langone Medical Center—also made the cut. (The other Home Depot co-founder, Bernie Marcus, is on the list too. He donated $7 million to Trump’s 2016 campaign.) Other real estate execs on the task force include Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Sheldon Adelson, Marriott’s Arne Sorensen and Hilton’s Christopher Nassetta

The construction side of the panel has several major labor and open-shop construction leaders, such as Sean McGarvey of North America’s Building Trades Union, Michael Bellaman of Associated Builders and Contractors, Terry O’Sullivan of Laborers’ International Union of North America, Richard Trumka of AFL-CIO and Jim Callahan of International Union of Operating Engineers