The Trump Organization has finally settled a lawsuit with District of Columbia Attorney General, Karl Racine just days before selling the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. Although the Trump Organization didn’t own the hotel outright – they had a long-term lease with the federal government –there was an outstanding loan of $275 million on the property stemming from a $200 million renovation prior to its September 2016 opening.
Despite operating the property at a loss for almost three years — and losing $71 million in the process — Eric Trump took to Twitter to praise the deal:
Proud to announce the record-breaking sale of the Trump D.C. The transaction marks the highest price per key ever achieved in Washington D.C., the highest price per key in U.S. history for a leasehold interest, and the largest sale of a historic hotel in over 15 years. pic.twitter.com/EANd9i1fMp
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) May 11, 2022
Even though it was sitting on prime real estate – Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol – the hotel was seen to be underperforming. It was frequented mainly by MAGA supporters, Trump sycophants, lobbyists, and foreign nationals and triggered not one, but two lawsuits for violating two provisions of the emoluments clause in the US Constitution.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the emoluments clause was included in the Constitution “to prevent corruption and limit foreign influence on federal officers. The Clause grew out of the Framers’ experience with the European custom of gift-giving to foreign diplomats, which the Articles of Confederation prohibited. Following that precedent, the Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits federal officers from accepting foreign emoluments without congressional consent.”
According to NBC News representatives of 22 foreign governments have either stayed, attended events, or rented or purchased accommodations at a Trump-owned property. The list of countries includes Saudi Arabia, China, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
In February of 2021, after Trump had left office, SCOTUS dismissed claims that Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, as moot, essentially letting Trump off the hook for any violations that took place during his presidency.
In 2020, District of Columbia Attorney General Racine accused the twice-impeached former president and his organization of overpayments during inaugural events in 2017. The complaint – which lists the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, Trump Organization LLC, and the Trump International Hotel Washington DC, as plaintiffs – states:
“Defendant the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee (the “PIC”) is a nonprofit corporation organized exclusively for and bound by a public purpose: ‘to further the common good and general welfare of the citizens of the United States of America by supporting the activities surrounding the 2017 Presidential inauguration.’ The PIC abandoned this purpose and violated District law when it wasted approximately $1 million of charitable funds in overpayment for the use of event space at the Trump Hotel, owned and controlled by the Trump Entities.”
After almost two years, a September trial date had been set by a Washington, DC Supreme Court Judge. Attorney General Racine said in a press release:
“No one is above the law, and we’re now going to trial to hold Donald Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee accountable for illegally using nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family. My office is committed to standing up against corruption and abuses of public trust. That’s why we investigate and when the facts reveal flagrant violations of law, we sue.”
Minority-owned CGI Merchant Group, stepped in, purchasing the property for $375 million – $125 million less than the original $500 million asking price in 2019. CGI Merchant Group is adding to a portfolio that includes, The Gabriel in Miami, 550 Biltmore in Coral Gables, and 3480 Main in Coconut Grove. By nightfall on the day of the deal, CGI had already sent a crew to remove the gold embossed Trump sign, in an attempt to eliminate any stench connected to the name.
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