Trump also used the question of statehood to give his soon-to-be-luxury hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion a plug. Read the transcript from the exchange below:
CHUCK TODD: All right. Toss you a quick Facebook question. Michael Martinez asks, “Residents of the District of Columbia currently pay federal taxes but have only a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, no representation in the Senate. Should that policy continue as is? Should D.C. become a state? Should it not have to pay taxes? Should it be treated like Puerto Rico–”DONALD TRUMP: Well, bas—CHUCK TODD: “How should D.C. residents be treated —”DONALD TRUMP: I have a conflict of interest because I’m building the greatest — you know, I’m building at the old post office I think what will be maybe one of the great hotels in the world —CHUCK TODD: So I’ve heard.DONALD TRUMP: It’ll open. And, by the way, unlike our government, we’re under budget and ahead of schedule. Isn’t that a nice thing to hear? You don’t hear that. Just like the wall will be under budget and ahead of schedule. And nobody’s getting through that wall. Believe me.CHUCK TODD: All right.DONALD TRUMP: But —CHUCK TODD: So the District.DONALD TRUMP: So I have a little bit of a conflict.CHUCK TODD: State or not?DONALD TRUMP: I would like to do whatever is good for the District of Columbia because I love the people. You know, it’s funny. I’ve really gotten to know the people, the representatives, and the mayor, and everybody. They’re really special people. They’re great. And they have a great feeling. So I would say whatever’s best for them I’m for. I have a total conflict of interest.CHUCK TODD: So you’re okay with either way? If they want statehood, you’re for statehood?DONALD TRUMP: I mean, people are talking about that. I’d look at it. I’d certainly look at it —CHUCK TODD: Or give them back to Maryland. Or do something.DONALD TRUMP: I would look at a number of things. And something would be done that everybody would be happy.
President Obama definitively stated last year that he was in favor of D.C. statehood, saying that “folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else.” Still, Obama has received criticism from statehood advocates, who say he has done little beyond empty gestures to advocate on D.C.’s behalf.
President George W. Bush removed D.C.’s “taxation without representation” license plates — politically charged plates intended as a protest of the city’s current status — from his presidential limousines when he took office. (President Bill Clinton had them put on the presidential vehicles in his final weeks of office.) Obama did not use the license plates during his first term but has displayed them during his second term.