Federal Agency Says Trump's DC Hotel Lease Is In 'Full Compliance'

Cheryl Sanders
March 24, 2017

The General Services Administration says President Trump is legally entitled to hold a lease for a hotel in a federal government-owned building, regardless of what critics say.

The federal government has ruled that President Trump's luxury Washington hotel is not violating its lease, despite a clause that says no government official can be a party to it. The hotel, which opened in September, is housed in the Old Post Office, a US government-owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House.

The Trump Organization has been paying $250,000 a month in rent since it signed the lease, according to Terry. Critics said the president would benefit if the establishment succeeds nonetheless. "Donald Trump still owns the hotel, still will benefit from payments and still has a vested interest in its success".

Donald Trump and his family cut the ribbon at the new Trump International Hotel October 26, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

In December, congressional Democrats said they had been briefed by GSA officials who believed Trump would be in violation of the lease when he was inaugurated.

The White House declined to comment.

"We would like to thank the GSA for their diligent review of this matter", Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the hotel, said in an email.

Trump's lawyers argued that the term "publicly held" applied to the word "corporation", but not to "other entity".

"It provides a tortured and wholly uncompelling analysis to avoid the central facts of the case: The GSA contract says that government officials can not own or benefit from a lease, and President Trump both owns and benefits from the lease", he said.

The agency, however, concluded that the president's hotel is in "full compliance" with the agreement. He called the agency's determination "bizarre and hard to account for in terms of what the lease says".

The Trump Organization built the hotel in the GSA-owned Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue after signing a 60-year, $180 million lease in 2013. In a letter to the GSA that was included with Terry's announcement, Trump's personal attorney, Sheri Dillon, made a similar argument.

"This is one more example of why President Trump should have divested his assets into a blind trust", he added.

According to the letter from the GSA, the reorganization of the hotel's management and organization structure and the creation of a revocable trust have satisfied the terms of the agreement. Profits will instead be held by Old Post Office LLC and used to "support and enhance the business of Tenant and operation of the hotel".

Tribe said that the arrangement is "essentially parking the profits" in the hotel business "until Trump leaves the presidency". Some argued that Trump may be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits USA officials from profiting from foreign officials. The president is still in line for "deferred enjoyment of the emoluments he is unlawfully accepting from various governmental entities and banks controlled by them". It's still a problem that a federal employee has an interest in a government contract, he said. Trump clearly became an elected federal official when he was sworn in as president.

Reps. Elijah Cummings and Peter DeFazio, top Democrats on the House Government Oversight and the House Transportation and Infrastructure committees, respectively, condemned the GSA conclusion.

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