NBC News reported Wednesday that the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., may very well be a conflict of interest for President Trump. The five-star hotel, situated only five blocks away from the White House, could potentially pose a legal threat to the president.
According to public filings obtained by NBC News, foreign governments, federal agencies, and political allies of Trump have spent a considerable sum of money at the D.C. hotel.
The plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Trump shortly after the election claim that the president’s hotel is a constitutional violation, “which includes emoluments clauses designed to keep officials from profiting from their positions or being influenced by gifts or benefits from foreign powers.” This first lawsuit was filed just after the Kuwait, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan governments held meetings and events at the very same hotel.
During the fiscal year of 2017, the president accumulated $40 million in revenue from the Trump International Hotel, according to his financial disclosure forms. His daughter Ivanka, on the other hand, gained a profit of $3.9 million.
However, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings indicate that federal agencies, Republican organizations, and foreign governments have spent a substantial amount of money at the hotel since Trump was elected and inaugurated.
According to a thorough analysis of the FEC filings, “PACs and Republican campaigns have spent more than a million dollars at the hotel.” Various lobbyists, religious groups, and even the Turkish American Business Council have all held meetings and spent a considerable sum there, although it is still unknown exactly how much each individual organization spends. Foreign dignitaries from Russia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Malaysia have also spent both time and money at the D.C. hotel.
Furthermore, federal agencies have spent tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money at the Trump hotel. Several FOIA requests have revealed that “more than $29,000 of which were spent by the Department of Defense. Almost $12,000 was spent by the Department of Agriculture, more than $9,000 by the Internal Revenue Service, and more than $1,700 was spent by the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the lease with the Trump Organization.”
In June 2017, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and hundreds of other congressional Democrats sued the president for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which expressly states that the POTUS cannot accept payments from any foreign governments. After Trump then proceeded to donate all of his businesses’ revenue to the Treasury in February, Blumenthal referred to his $151,470 donation as a “sham.”
The Trump Organization fired back, however, issuing a letter to Blumenthal, stating, “Moreover, if the Trump Organization has been unable, after considerable effort, to identify other foreign government patronage revenue that revenue could not possibly serve to curry favor with or otherwise influence the President of the Administration.”