Leading Democrats on Capitol Hill say President Trump’s Washington hotel lost more than $1.1 million in the first two months of operations and renewed their assertions Monday that the project has violated its lease with the federal government and raised untenable conflicts of interest.
Before Trump entered office, Democrats led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) called on the General Services Administration, which oversees Trump’s lease, to explain how it would address a clause in the lease barring any “elected official of the Government of the United States” from deriving “any benefit” from the agreement.
At the time, the GSA responded by saying that since no violation had taken place, it did not yet need to act.
[Democrats in Congress press Obama administration over conflicts at Trump’s D.C. hotel]
Now that Trump is in office, the Hill Democrats want answers. Cummings along with Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), Gerald E. Connolly (Va.) and André Carson (Ind.) again wrote to the GSA on Monday, asserting that Trump had lost more than $1.1 million in the period the hotel was open from September to October and again asking GSA officials what action they would take.
“We have been raising concerns about this issue for months, and we understand that GSA raised our concerns with the Trump transition team directly several weeks ago,” Cummings and the other House members wrote. “Our hope has always been that President Trump would resolve these breach-of-lease and conflict of interest issues prior to being sworn in as President on January 20. Unfortunately, President Trump has refused to address these concerns, and taxpayer dollars may now be squandered as career public servants are forced to take remedial action to cure this breach.”
GSA officials did not respond to requests for comment.
It isn’t unusual for hotels to lose money when they first open, and much of Trump’s hotel wasn’t complete when it first invited guests in for a “soft opening” in September. Trump’s lease does not require that the hotel be profitable, and the GSA has said his company is current on rent payments.
But the numbers still fall well below even projections from the Trump Organization, which did not respond to a request for comment, and heightened the distraction that Trump’s continued ownership of the property has become. He says he is putting his sons in charge of his businesses, but that he will retain ownership in them.
Warren and Sen. Thomas R. Carper (Del.) wrote with similar concerns, requesting answers on how the GSA plans to respond to the possible violation by Friday.
“The violation of the terms of the lease is not longer hypothetical, as President Trump will soon oversee GSA and appoint a new GSA Administrator, effectively making him simultaneously landlord and tenant, of the Old Post Office building,” the senators wrote.