Trump’s hotel lease to get a second look from GSA inspector general

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

Trump International Hotel in Washington isn’t Donald Trump’s building. It’s actually the Old Post Office Pavillion, a U.S. landmark, in which Trump happens to operate a hotel under a 2012 lease with the government. That lease has been the subject of several concerns, including whether Trump has violated the foreign emoluments clause by rewarding representatives of other nations who stay there or organize activities there. In addition, there are more domestic issues of concern, including a standard clause in the contract that prohibits the lease from benefiting “any elected official.”

The potential conflicts generated a number of lawsuits, including one from Democrats in Congress led by Richard Blumenthal.

The lawsuit … says Trump has refused to disclose the foreign payments he has received and is in violation of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause that prohibits government officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments without first consulting Congress.

But the Jefferson Sessions Justice Department took a unique view of emoluments, more or less saying anything that Trump earned through his business was out of bounds. And concerns about the contract took a blow back in March when the General Services Administration ruled that there was no violation of the lease.

But now the GSA’s inspector general is going to investigate the GSA. 

“GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is evaluating GSA’s management and administration of the ground lease for the Old Post Office Building,” GSA press secretary Pam Dixon told TPM. 

This could lead to a re-evaluation of whether the lease is still valid. When the hotel recently proved to be unexpectedly profitable, it’s hard to argue that it’s not making money for Trump, and that the reason it’s making more money than predicted is because Trump has been able to leverage his political power.