Trump Considers Disposing of D.C. Hotel to End Legal and Political Disputes

October 30, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The Trump organization is considering selling its lease on the downtown Washington Trump International Hotel to resolve legal and political disputes over its ownership and profits.

Controversy surrounding the hotel is part of an ongoing tide of criticism against the Donald Trump as he faces an impeachment investigation.

The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 12 on whether Trump is violating his Constitutional duties by profiting from the hotel while he serves as president. The complaint was filed by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland.

The Trump Organization acknowledged it was exploring a sale one day after a congressional committee issued a subpoena to the General Services Administration seeking information about its lease of the Old Post Office Building that became Trump International Hotel.

The Trump Organization could gain $500 million from a sale of the lease, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The General Services Administration granted Trump a 60-year lease on the 121-year-old building, which lies a short walk from the White House. It opened shortly before he was elected as president in 2016 and has become a frequent destination for foreign diplomats and lobbyists doing business with the White House.

“Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” Trump’s son Eric said in a statement.

Eric Trump addressed the conflict of interest complaints when he told the Wall Street Journal, “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

The Trump Organization hired the commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle to assist in a possible sale of the lease.

Other conflict of interest allegations arose Saturday when The Washington Post reported that a company linked to the president’s brother recently received a $33 million government contract.

Reston, Va.-based CertiPath provides security for federal courthouses and cell blocks. Robert S. Trump, the president’s younger brother, is an investor in CertiPath through an investment partnership, according to company officials.

On June 25, the U.S. Marshal’s Service announced it was giving CertiPath the $33 million contract to provide digital security and online identity verification.

The announcement drew a complaint to the Justice Department from a rival bidder. The complaint says, “The circumstances of this contract award, and what appear to be CertiPath’s efforts to obscure Mr. Robert Trump’s financial interest in the company even as it trades on the Trump name, present the appearance of preferential treatment for those who are close to the President.

The complaint was filed by the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Venable on behalf of an unnamed client.

Robert Trump continues to serve as president of Trump Management, a company listed on President Trump’s financial disclosure form.

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