March 23, 2017
GSA Says Trump Organization, Owned By Their Boss, Is In Compliance With Hotel Lease
Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: The General Services Administration (GSA) has sent a letter to President Donald Trump that concludes Trump’s continued ownership of his Washington hotel doesn’t violate lease terms that strictly forbid lease benefits to elected officials. The ruling comes barely two weeks after Norman Dong, former head of public buildings at GSA announced his departure from the agency.
The GSA’s legal analysis would get a first-year law student kicked out of law school. It provides a tortured and wholly uncompelling analysis to avoid the central facts of the case: The GSA contract says that government officials cannot own or benefit from a lease, and President Trump both owns and benefits from the lease. Handing the ownership stake over to a trust owned by the president and delaying pay out of profits does nothing to change those central facts and does not cure the violation of the plain terms of the lease.
The GSA’s Alice-in-Wonderland legal reasoning is an affront to the rule of law. And it matters in very practical terms, as well. The operation of the Trump International Hotel just down the street from the White House represents an institutionalization of cronyism on a scale never seen in American history.