Donald Trump has said “I don’t know” when asked whether he would accept government financial help for any of his family businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Asked at a White House briefing on the pandemic on Saturday afternoon, the president said: “I don’t know. I just don’t know what the government assistance would be for what I have. I have hotels.

“Everybody knew I had hotels when I got elected. They knew I was a successful person when I got elected so it’s one of those things.”

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He was speaking shortly after the New York Times reported that Mr Trump’s family business had closed Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Florida, cut staff at hotels in New York and Washington, closed golf courses in Los Angeles and Miami and halted new reservations at a hotel in Las Vegas.

He added: “As far as the hotels and everything is concerned, I have to do what everyone else is doing. I would probably decide to close things up … You don’t want people getting together and hotels and everything, you get together.

“So I have many of them – hotels, clubs, things like that where people get together.”

There has been sustained controversy to the extent that Mr Trump may be profiting from the presidency through his businesses.

Carolyn Maloney, Democratic chairwoman of the House oversight and reform committee, said Mr Trump was “openly enriching himself by encouraging government entities to spend money at his businesses, and foreign entities appear to frequent his business to curry favour with this administration”.

Last year he announced that he would host the G7 meeting of world leaders at his Doral golf resort but later backed down amid an uproar, relocating it to Camp David, the presidential retreat, although it was subsequently cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There have also been claims that his frequent visits to his own properties, particularly Mar-a-Lago, are costing the taxpayer because secret service agents are charged to stay there while protecting him.

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