The republican President Donald Trump is facing a lawsuit claiming that the tab from his foreign guests at the hotel violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause. According to the emoluments clause the president is barred from being enriched from foreign monies. Before January 2017, the hotel was a white elephant. The hotel vacancy rate was high and the restaurants were virtually empty. All that has drastically changed for the better as soon as the president was ensconced in the White House.
But for the president to take advantage of the hotel’s change in fortunes, it was necessary for the Government Services Agency, the owner of the old post office which has become a Trump Hotel in Washington D.C., to find that he was not violating a clause in his lease. The clause states, “No “elected official of the government of the United States, shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”
So how did the president successfully circumvent this property contractual legal clause?
Here is the rest of the story…
On 5/15/17, the New York Times Editorial published the following op-ed piece, “G.S.A.’s Revolving Door at a Trump Hotel.
“If there was an opening act in President Trump’s quest to exploit his office for personal gain, it was the rapid turn in fortunes experienced by the Trump International Hotel in Washington’s Old Post Office after he won the presidency.”
“For that to happen, Mr. Trump needed the General Services Administration, the government’s property manager, to find he was not violating a clause in his lease. No “elected official of the government of the United States,” it says, “shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”
“At its September opening, the hotel was a loser tied to a pariah in a deep-blue city. Its restaurant sat nearly empty; its rooms were hawked at steep discounts. After the election, everything changed. Foreign governments, corporate titans and lobbyists thronged the place: Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Kuwait moved parties from other venues to the hotel.”
“As the president-elect spun cash, Denise Turner Roth, the agency chief, saw nothing wrong. “G.S.A. does not have a position that the lease provision requires the President-elect to divest of his financial interests,” an agency spokesperson said. “No determination regarding the Old Post Office can be completed until the full circumstances surrounding the President-elect’s business arrangements have been finalized and he has assumed office.”
“As Ms. Roth left office, she tweeted: “It has been a great honor to support a smooth Presidential Transition. Thank you for your kind words @mike_pence.” Vice President Mike Pence had said, “The cooperation that the outgoing administration has extended in this transition effort would make every American proud.”
“Ms. Roth’s complaisance was mystifying. She was an outgoing Obama appointee. What did she have to lose by calling to task the Trump administration?”
“A few weeks after leaving the agency, Ms. Roth was named a senior adviser at WSP/USA, a global engineering and construction management firm whose projects include — surprise — government buildings.”
“WSP did not make Ms. Roth available for comment and emailed a statement saying she “was brought on board due to her 20 years of public service at the federal and local government levels. … Denise will focus on revitalization issues, smart cities, performance measures and organization development for private and public clients. As with all our professionals, she will not lobby the federal, state or local government on behalf of the firm.”
“Federal law prohibits appointees at Ms. Roth’s level from contacting their agencies for one year. The Obama administration required appointees to pledge they’d avoid soliciting their former agencies for an additional year. “I was proud to be in a position to have such an extensive influence over the last three years,” Ms. Roth said in a job announcement. “Now I’m excited to have an opportunity to work with people who are also passionate about improving the communities where they live. I like how it feels … it’s a perfect marriage.”
“It’s a shame Ms. Roth didn’t exert her extensive influence to make Mr. Trump follow his legal obligations before she entered what seems like a marriage of convenience. (The president faces a lawsuit claiming that the tab from his foreign guests at the hotel violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause.)
“In March, the G.S.A.’s new Trump-appointed leadership declared the hotel in “full compliance” with the lease.”