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Donald Trump Calls Equinox Owner 'Great Friend' as Protest Continues


He also said the controversial fundraiser is now sold out. 

Donald Trump seems to be proud of his "great friend" billionaire Stephen Ross as protests against the real estate tycoon continue.

Asked outside the White House Friday morning, the president quickly defended Ross, who is hosting a fundraiser for the president in Southhampton, N.Y., on Friday.

The billionaire has faced days of backlash as news of his event broke across the country, and protests are scheduled for Friday evening at the Equinox in West Hollywood.

Trump went on the say that Ross probably leans more "liberal" than he does but likes him as a politician, and that the event is sold out.

Ross also called Trump a friend two days earlier when first responding to the backlash against him.

"I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions," he said in a statement.

And the two men's friendship should not surprise anyone due to how financially connected they truly are.

According to Forbes, Ross is an investor in Ladder Capital, a creditor that lent $275 million to Trump in mortgages.

Ross, who himself is worth $7.7 billion, first attempted a takeover of Ladder Capital -- which also holds a mortgage on New York City's Trump Tower -- shortly after Trump became president, according to the Associated Press. While this attempt failed, he does own an $80 million stake in the company.

And Trump still owes Ladder up to $150 million for loans dating back to 2012, Forbes reports.

Outraged members of the LGBTQ community and allies have intensified their boycott of Ross by canceling their memberships in the elite exercise clubs Equinox and SoulCycle in response to the fundraiser. Adam Davis is among those who called to cancel his membership at the Equinox in West Hollywood.

"Knowing that my outrageous as it is membership fee could fuel the slightest amount of hate is justification enough to walk away and resist," Davis said in an email to The Advocate. "Defeating hate is more important than abs and a steam room," he added.

Equinox and SoulCycle have both attempted to distance themselves from Ross by releasing statements. However, efforts appear to not be working, as the association of Trump and Ross with the brands only continues to grow stronger.

In the last election cycle, Stephen Ross was among the top 200 political donors in the country, according to transparency website Open Secrets, giving more than $452,000 to political candidates and parties nationwide.

About 93 percent of his donations went to Republicans.

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