Workers removed Donald Trump’s name from his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC on Wednesday after the $375 million sale of the lease to Florida investors was completed.
House Democrats estimate the former president, under legal and financial pressure on multiple fronts, will earn $100 million from the sale, once a loan for the renovations is paid off.
An ethics group called the hotel “a pit of corruption”. During Trump’s four years in the White House, the hotel became a magnet for aides, supporters and foreign companies seeking favors.
Critics and ethics groups were particularly concerned about the situation because Trump did not formally divest from the Trump Organization. The presidential historian Michel Beschloss predicted that even after the sale, “political ghosts will persist”.
The hotel has lost more than $70 million over the four years of Trump’s presidency, including losses each year before the pandemic shutdowns in 2020. Many hotel brokers, owners and consultants did not expect this that the 263-room hotel, located near the White House, fetches such a hefty price tag.
The lease price, equivalent to more than $1.4 million worth of rooms, caught the attention of Democrats in Congress. The New York Times reported that JLL, a real estate company, estimated the average selling price for hotels in Washington in 2020 at $354,000 per room.
CGI Merchant Group, the buyer, reportedly intends to turn the hotel into a branch of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain. Earlier this month, the House Oversight Committee requested documents from CGI, listing all of the investors, which would include former New York Yankees slugger and Alex Rodriguez, who confessed to cheating with drugs .
The sale marks the end of a controversial chapter in Trump’s rise. The real estate mogul opened the Trump International Hotel in the old post office building in 2016, during his run for president.
In a statement on Wednesday, Eric Trump, Trump’s middle son, said, “We’ve taken a dilapidated, underutilized building and transformed it into one of the most iconic hotels in the world.”
The hotel had long drawn criticism for perceived conflicts of interest. Recently, the Trump Organization and Trump’s 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia Attorney General that alleged the hotel received excessive payments from the committee.
Upon news of the settlement, Carolyn Maloney, Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, said her concerns about the sale of the lease “have only increased.”
The building is still owned by the federal government, which approved the lease sale in March.
When Trump was in office, claims or lawsuits under the constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which covers gifts and payments to office holders, could not stand.
In 2019, Kathleen Clark, a law professor at the University of Washington, told the Guardian: “For more than a hundred years, the Justice Department has strictly interpreted the constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments clause to prohibit federal officials from accepting anything of value from foreign governments in the absence of Congress. consent.
“In 2017, the department backtracked, adopting arguments nearly identical to those made by Trump’s private sector lawyers. Instead of defending the republic against foreign influence, the department… defends[ed] Trump’s ability to receive money from foreign governments.
On Wednesday, the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or Crew, mentioned: “The Trump Hotel in DC is no more. Good riddance to a pit of corruption.
But it is also mentioned“We still have a few questions… namely, whether a ‘premium sale price’ for a hotel that has lost money is justified and what are the outstanding security risks for the hotel.”
Mark S Zaid, a Washington lawyer specializing in cases involving the federal government, added“I still view this as vindication of our legal efforts to remove Trump from this majestic building. We started an effort that helped. It took longer than expected. »