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BK Blog Post
Posted by Jeffrey Clements.
Jeffrey Clements is a cofounder and general counsel of Free Speech for People, a national, nonpartisan campaign to oppose corporate personhood and pass the People’s Rights Amendment.
Today, the General Services Administration (the federal government’s property management agency) announced its long-awaited decision on whether the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. was violating its lease from the federal government. Unfortunately, the decision allows Trump to continue operating the hotel despite clear lease language, by playing a shell game and moving assets around.
As background, the Trump International Hotel is located in the Old Post Office building, which the federal government owns and GSA manages. The lease, which Trump signed before he became president, specifically says: “No member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom . . . .”
Obviously, that’s a problem, because Donald Trump is now the president. And since he directs the executive branch of the government, he is both landlord and tenant. But today’s letter from the GSA announced that the Trump company “is in full compliance” with the lease section quoted above.
GSA’s logic is, to put it briefly, (1) there are several layers of intermediate LLCs and holding companies and trusts between the LLC that holds the lease (Trump Old Post Office LLC) and Trump himself, and (2) Trump Old Post Office LLC will set aside the money that it ordinarily would have paid to Trump, and keep it in the company account until he’s out of office.
This is woefully inadequate. Trump still benefits financially from the hotel (and from running the hotel’s landlord, the GSA) even if he can’t collect the money until he’s out of office. The money will be waiting for him. A delayed payday is still a payday.
With Trump in the White House, GSA may have been in an impossible position. And that’s why Trump was urged to divest his businesses before taking the oath of office. Instead, the executive branch of government has issued a legal interpretation that provides a profit to the President of the United States, with additional compensation (even if deferred) in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The post GSA’s Absurd Decision to Allow Trump to Continue his Hotel Lease appeared first on Free Speech for People.