- Former President Trump’s DC hotel was an “epicenter” of corruption, the head of a watchdog group said in an NBC News op-ed.
- Anyone looking to “curry favor” could walk into the hotel and “flash cash,” he wrote.
- These comments follow a damning report on the GSA’s oversight of Trump’s business dealings.
Former President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC, was an “epicenter” of corruption, according to the head of an ethics watchdog group.
“Anyone looking to curry favor with his administration could simply walk over to his namesake hotel a couple of blocks from the White House and flash cash,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, in an article published by NBC News.
Bookbinder’s assessment follows a damning House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure report, released on Wednesday.
It found that the agency overseeing the Trump Organization’s lease “washed its hands of any responsibility” in investigating ethical concerns and if the emoluments clauses of the Constitution were being followed, NBC News reported.
The emoluments clauses prohibit a sitting president from taking payments or benefits from foreign and domestic governments to safeguard against undue influence.
The report found that the General Services Administration (GSA) failed to track payments from foreign governments to the hotel, per NBC News.
Representatives of at least 22 foreign governments spent money at Trump properties, including the hotel in DC, during the early years of his presidency, the media outlet said. And there were “zero checks and balances” into whether the hotel’s calculations of these payments were fair and accurate, the committee said, per NBC News.
The report also found that the GSA did not seek to identify the origins of more than $75 million in loans made by Trump and his family to the hotel, and “whether the ultimate source of the financing posed any constitutional concerns,” the report said.
It noted that Trump’s refusal to divest his financial interest in the hotel was “problematic” and created “multiple” conflicts of interest during his presidency, per NBC News. The report found that political appointees at the GSA were making real estate decisions that “impacted the president’s personal properties,” NBC News reported.
Bookbinder, in his op-ed, explained why he thinks this matters. “On issues from taxes to environmental regulation to foreign policy, we never knew whether Trump’s administration was making decisions in the interest of the American people or in the interest of his bottom line,” he wrote.