It is standard practice for the president to put the country before their finances. Federal ethics officials have told President Trump to divest his business interests to avoid claims of bribery and to reassure Americans that America is his only concern. He says that he can create a “firewall” between his businesses and him by having his oldest sons run them. Mr. Trump and his company, the Trump organization, last week hired lawyers to keep an eye on the Trumps. Hiring lawyers to watch you does not meet federal ethics policy at all, it’s just an attempt at giving the impression of ethical behavior.
He has said that federal law allows presidents to keep their business, even though no president in modern history has done that. He and his attorneys haven’t drawn attention to the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars government officials from accepting gifts or income from other country’s government, without the approval of congress. He continues to refuse to release his tax returns and divest his assets and put the money in a blind trust, which is what his cabinet nominees are doing.
Mr. Trump has a 60- year lease on the Trump international hotel in Washington D.C., with the General Services Administration. The contract that he has with the General Services Administration says that no elected official can be “admitted to any share or part of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” That clause of the contract Mr. Trump has entered into with the General Services Administration is specific, unambiguous, and clear.
Besides the contract he signed, he is probably violating the emoluments clause by keeping his hotel in the old post office building. Will the hotel open its records up to the public so they can see if Mr. Trump has been profiting from foreign governments?
If the GSA doesn’t take action, a competitor of the Trump Washington DC hotel could call for a cancellation of the lease because the president’s ownership of the hotel is unfair competition. The Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. has been taking business away from other hotels because people want to stay in the hotel the president owns. Since the election on November 8th, diplomatic embassies from countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, and Azerbaijan have had receptions at the Trump hotel in Washington D.C., diplomats say they need to be seen patronizing it.
The brand is certainly hotter than it was before
-President Trump shortly after the election on the Trump Hotel brand
Even Sean Spicer has begun endorsing the hotel in the briefing room. He said that “It’s an absolutely stunning hotel, I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by.”
The reality is, only Donald Trump benefits from being president and owning a hotel owned by his own government. He wants you to think its legal, but the Constitution tells you otherwise.