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As President, Trump Can't Manage D.C. Hotel
PHOTO: Donald Trump may very well have to relinquish control of his new D.C. hotel. (Photo courtesy Instagram/Trump International)
Donald Trump’s short jaunt towards Inauguration Day will not be without its hotel hiccups as reports suggest the president-elect will have to relinquish control of his new Trump International Hotel Washington D.C.
Bloomberg reports on peculiarities with the $3 million lease Trump pays to the U.S. government for the property.
According to the report, the building cannot be run by any elected official, which includes those who just won the highest office in the land through a remarkably shocking election earlier this month.
Bloomberg quotes the lease that reads: “No member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”
That clearly states that the building, a 263-room hotel that just enjoyed a lavish refurbishment at Trump’s hands, must be run by someone clear of governmental conflicts of interest.
On a broader front, Trump seems to have answered a growing concern of those preparing for a president who owns multiple businesses on myriad fronts.
Rather than a nuanced explanation, however, Trump decided to tweet the following over the course of several posts (emphasis Trump’s): “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”
As Bloomberg’s Stephanie Baker points out, the above statement is disturbingly vague:
Baker wonders, “he will be leaving his businesses, but he doesn’t say what type of structure he’s put in place.”
As for Trump International, Bloomberg does field some advice, such as that from Scott Amey who is the general counsel to the Project on Government Oversight: “The government should be pursuing an avenue to terminate the lease.”
Doing so in a clean fashion would be tremendously problematic. Kevin Fullington, co-chairman of the government relations group at Herrick Feinstein LLP in New York, tells Bloomberg that a sale at this point in the year posed something, “close to impossible.”
An expert did note that the clause’s use of the term “shall be admitted” could be an avenue for Trump to meander on without relinquishing control, positing that the spirit of the agreement is that no government official shall be added in the future.
Obviously, offering the property and its day-to-day operations to one of his children is another solution, but Bloomberg notes that would still lead to possible conflicts of interest.
Trump International, a hotel that has seen as many headlines for its beauty as it has for its tumultuous operations will again endure an intriguing battle, this time over the meaning of its lease agreement.
While the grandeur and opulence of its rooms aren’t leaving the area, its status as a Trump-run hotel may very well change.
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