PHOTO: President-elect Donald Trump said some profits from the Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. will be donated to the U.S. Treasury. (Photo via Flickr/Maxence)
It's no secret that President-elect Donald Trump's businesses, including his new Washington, D.C. luxury hotel, have the potential to become conflicts of interest when he steps into the White House later this month.
On Wednesday, Trump painted a clearer picture of what will happen when he takes office. Nonetheless, his plan still has some experts scratching their heads. During a mid-week news conference, Trump said that he will donate any profits his hotels earn on stays from foreign government officials to the U.S. Treasury.
"Paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present, and it has nothing to do with an office. It's not an emolument. The Constitution does not require President-elect Trump to do anything here, but just like with conflicts of interest, he wants to do more than what the Constitution requires," Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm partner Sheri Dillon said at Wednesday's news conference, via ABC News.
"He is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury. This way, it is the American people who will profit."
A group of House Democrats recently reached out to the General Services Administration (GSA) regarding the potential conflict of interest pertaining to the Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C., and while the organization suggested Trump would be violating his lease agreement if he doesn't fully divest from it before becoming an elected official, it said it wouldn't take action yet.
President George W. Bush's former chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter told ABC News that Trump "needs to sell" his D.C. hotel.
"There are lobbyists booking rooms — they want the president to come over and attend while they're paying him money for his hotel," said Painter. "This is going to get very close to the bribery and gratuity statutes."
Trump said he'll have no involvement with the Trump Organization moving forward while his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump run the business. However, it remains to be seen how realistic his plan actually is.
"Firewalls work in businesses, not in families," Project on Government Oversight executive director Danielle Brian told ABC News. "Trump claims he'll only learn about his businesses from the newspapers, but it's hard to believe that family dinner conversations will be restricted to the weather."
Trump's controversial plan comes on the heels of news that multiple companies have filed $5 million in liens against his new D.C. hotel for unpaid work.
The hotel was also recently given the unwelcome distinction of being one of the worst luxury hotel openings of 2016.