With one day until he is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump is raking in the dough at his newly renovated Trump International Hotel, located a handy four blocks from the White House.
Not only has Mr. Trump’s use of the hotel violated the emoluments clause of the constitution, which prohibits the president from accepting gifts from foreign governments, he violated his own contract, according to thinkprogress.org.
First, those foreign gifts. Mr. Trump invited a whole host of foreign diplomats to a reception following his November election. They were served dinner, offered raffle prizes and even sipped on complimentary Trump-branded champagne. All of that is legal. What’s not legal is that those Diplomats came to dinner at Mr. Trump’s very own hotel, some even booked rooms, meaning their celebratory visit equated to wads in the billionaires pocket.
“Believe me, all the delegations will go there,” one Middle Eastern diplomat told The Washington Post. He even booked an overseas visitor.
The president-elect had discussed divesting from his business to avoid such conflicts, but after a couple months of not really talking about it, he decided not to do anything of the sort. That means that every time a foreign government official visits Washington, D.C. and stays at his oh-so-conveniently located hotel, he will be banking bigly on their stay. That’s called a a gift, or in 18th century prose an emolument, thank you very much.
Second, the contract Mr. Trump signed when he accepted government funds to help build his hotel included a provision that no elected official could take ownership of the hotel, according to CNN.
Mr. Trump is now an elected official. He owns his hotel. That agreement is not going to change anytime in the near future. But rules don’t seem to apply to the new president elect. He does whatever suits him, making money bigly all the way.
Then there was Wednesday’s press conference turned Trump Hotelathon. When asked about the conflict, Sean Spicer pivoted to what appeared to be an infomercial for Trump International Hotel. “It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by,” Spicer said.
By the way, nobody in the press conference could have visited the hotel if they wanted to. Media are prohibited for the week.
If Americans don’t want their pocketbooks pilfered by the new president, they’re going to need to speak up fast.