The Trump Organization is seeking to have the rent on its hotel in Washington, D.C. decreased, and has made a formal request which will either be approved or denied by…the Trump administration.
In what may well wind up being the most blatant conflict of interest yet involving President Donald Trump and his company, The New York Times notes:
“President Trump’s signature hotel in the nation’s capital wants a break on the terms of its lease. The landlord determining the fate of the request is Mr. Trump’s own administration.”
Like many hotels across the United States, the Trump International Hotel located at the old post office in the nation’s capitol has also seen flagging revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that has led the company currently run by the president’s two eldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric, to seek a break on the lease:
“Trump International Hotel, just a few blocks from the White House, had been a favored gathering place for lobbyists, foreign dignitaries and others hoping to score points with the president. But like most hotels, it is now nearly empty and looking to cut costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, the president’s family business has inquired about changing its lease payments, according to people familiar with the matter, which the federal government has reported amount to nearly $268,000 per month.”
The Trump Organization signed a 60-year lease on the property in 2013.
Eric Trump confirmed to The Times that the company was indeed trying to change the terms of its lease, including the amount of lease paid monthly, and doing so means the final decision would be made by an agency which is under the direct purview of the president himself. And that raises all sorts of legal and ethical questions:
“Companies across the country have pleaded for relief from lenders and landlords, but the Trump Organization’s submission presents a particular predicament. If it denies the request, the agency risks running afoul of the president, who appoints its leader; but if it accommodates the Trumps, the agency is likely to draw fire from critics.”
Shortly after The Times published its blockbuster report on Tuesday evening, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) noted on Twitter that President Trump should be forced to divest from the company that bears his name:
This blatant corruption in the middle of a public health & economic crisis is just mind-boggling. Enough is enough: Congress should pass my bill to #EndCorruptionNow to force Presidents to fully divest from their businesses.https://t.co/UlV5QNCeiF
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 22, 2020
Featured Image Via NBC News