Trump’s new Washington D.C. luxury hotel has been all over the news during discussions of conflict of interest with Trump’s business practices. You may also recall the stunt Trump pulled earlier this year when he lured press there to basically film a free infomercial.
Well, as reported then, the joke was on him but it looks like it might be again. Prominent George Washington University law professor, Steven Schooner, studied Trump’s lease to the new Trump International Hotel and it turns out that it will be illegal if Trump becomes president in January.
Donald Trump doesn’t actually own the hotel, but rather leases the building, which used to house the United States Postal Service headquarters. Because the building is still owned by the federal government, if Trump takes office, he can no longer lease the building. Schooner explains:
“The contract between GSA and the Trump Organization specifically says that no elected official of the United States government shall be party to, share in, or benefit from the contract,” he says, citing clause 37.19 of the contract.”
The clause reads:
“No member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”
Schooner says that the GSA should terminate the lease, citing many potential conflicts. Not only could foreign diplomats stay there in order to cozy up to Trump and receive favors, but Trump would essentially be the tenant and the landlord. Talk about a conflict of interest! Adding to that Schooner says,
“So the Trump transition team would be naming the person responsible for the agency that’s managing Trump’s lease. Obviously that’s a problem.”
Trump’s team has not responded to NPR with a comment but one has to wonder: If Trump is such a smart businessman, why didn’t he know this? Or, perhaps he did and just doesn’t care.
Featured image via Getty/Drew Angerer