Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pretended in jest not to know who owned the Trump International Hotel in Washington, as he lavished it with praise on Friday while addressing a private event for one of President Trump’s paying customers.
Pompeo was speaking to the Concerned Women for America, a conservative nonprofit group that invited him and Vice President Pence to address its 40th anniversary gala held at the Trump hotel that sits blocks from the White House.
“I look around. This is such a beautiful hotel,” Pompeo said. “The guy who owns it must have been successful somewhere along the way.”
“That was for The Washington Post,” he added, gesturing to the media in the back of the room.
The Post reported Thursday on the two powerful Trump officials’ attendance at an event that drives revenue to President Trump’s private business. Pompeo’s nod to The Post is probably referring to the newspaper’s ongoing reporting into the Trump Organization and whether the company has profited off Trump’s presidency.
Trump has come under heightened scrutiny as individuals, industries and foreign governments who would seek to curry favor with Trump have used his properties for events and overnight stays.
Most recently, Pence’s decision to stay at a Trump-owned hotel in Ireland, 140 miles away from his meetings in Dublin, led the House Oversight Committee to launch an investigation into whether Pence was using taxpayer dollars to enrich the president.
While Pence has hosted and appeared at numerous events at Trump properties, this appears to be the first time Pompeo headlined at his boss’s hotel.