Four Democrat congressmen are calling for President-elect Donald Trump to divest any stake he holds in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., before he takes office in January, citing a clause in the lease that forbids any elected official from profiting off the hotel.
In a letter sent to the General Services Administration, the government agency that owns the hotel and leases it to Trump, the four Democrats say Trump would violate the lease the minute he is sworn in on Inauguration Day, and asked how the agency plans to address the apparent upcoming contract breach.
The issue surrounds a clause in the contract that says “no member of Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease.”
The Democrats claim that clause precludes Trump from holding any stake in the hotel, even though he wasn’t an elected official when he signed the lease. Some government contracting experts, though, say the wording of the clause, particularly the use of the word “admitted”, would only keep Trump from acquiring a stake in the hotel after he is sworn in, but wouldn’t affect the interest he already owns.
According to the Democrat lawmakers, the GSA agrees with their assessment of Trump’s potential lease violation and says the agency has attempted to contact the Trump transition team, but received no response.
“When our staffs asked if GSA attempted to contact Mr. Trump or his associates about this issue, the Deputy Commissioner stated that GSA informed the Trump transition team about concerns raised by us and others about the imminent breach, but that GSA has heard nothing in response to date,” the letter said, citing a briefing provided to the congressmen by a GSA official.
Neither the GSA nor the Trump Transition Team immediately returned a VOA request for comment regarding the claims made by Reps. Elijah Cummings, Peter DeFazio, Gerald Connolly and Andre Carson.
In a statement released last month, the GSA said it “plans to coordinate with the president-elect’s team to address any issues that may be related to the Old Post Office building.”