Republican politicians in Washington DC have been twisting themselves and their supposed family values into mutant pretzel shapes in order to defend Donald Trump from the multiple allegations of criminal and unconstitutional behavior that Democrats have accused him of committing.
They have even defended him from the clear violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause that his ownership of a major hotel located on property that the Trump Organization leases from the federal government has engendered — all while GOP bigwigs go out of their way to spend lavishly at Trump’s hotels and resorts in order to curry favor with their leader as if they were sycophantic toadies in a banana republic.
Now, it will be interesting to see whether those Republicans will continue to support Trump as vociferously after a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) shows that the president and his family business have no compunction in looting the coffers of his own political party.
CREW discovered that room rates at the Trump International Hotel in the capital had been raised to nearly three times their normal level for the night that a Republican Senate retreat is scheduled to be hosted at the hotel.
The Senate conclave is set to take place on November 7 when the least expensive rooms at the Trump International Hotel are listed as costing $1,345 for one night in a “premier” room and $1,395 for a booking in a “deluxe” room.
CREW contrasts those extortionary rates with those they found in a Google search for availability on the nights of October 23, 25, and 28 when the average room cost was a mere $455 per night. Exactly one week before the event, on Halloween, the cheapest room could be booked for $445. Pushing their search forward to exactly one week after the GOP Senators gather to further stuff the president’s wallet, the ethics watchdog group found room rates hovering at around $795, a rate nearly 60% less than the one that the attendees of the Senate retreat will be forking over as they get forked over by the Trump Organization.
While described as a Senate retreat in some media accounts, the event at the hotel — called the Save the Senate Retreat — is hosted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (who obviously need to hire someone new to negotiate their travel and accommodation arrangements) and will feature President Trump as a special guest attendee.
While the invitation to the event claims that it is “not a fundraiser,” there is a requirement of having made previously verified contributions to the GOP Senatorial Committee “at the Majority Maker Level” in order to gain a complementary invite.
Trump’s ability to continue to commit emoluments violations on steroids, as in this instance — while simultaneously fleecing wealthy Republican donors and the campaigns of the people who will likely soon be forced to vote whether to expedite his removal from office — may soon come to an end if the reports of the Trump Organization’s desire to sell the Trump International Hotel — because of the multiple ethics lawsuits that the president’s ownership of the property has inspired — come to pass.
In the meantime, one can take solace in the fact that — at least this time — Donald Trump is cheating people who deserve to be fleeced, if only for their failure to stop his illegal personal enrichment at government expense any sooner.
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Original reporting by Rebecca Klar at The Hill.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.