House issues subpoena for documents related to Trump’s D.C. hotel, which is housed in a federally owned building
• Oct 24, 2019
The House Transportation Committee issued a subpoena to the General Services Administration on Thursday seeking financial records and other information regarding President Trump’s D.C. hotel.
The Trump International Hotel operates in the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion, on a lease that Trump signed in 2013 when he was still with his company, which has become the center of lawsuits and conflict-of-interest concerns since he took office.
According to a copy of the subpoena, sent by committee Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, the committee is seeking any communications between the GSA and President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump or Eric Trump, as well as monthly financial records that the Trump Organization provides to the agency.
Ivanka Trump managed the project for her father before he entered politics. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are running the company while Trump is president.
The committee’s request is the latest effort aimed at unearthing more information about the president’s business. The efforts include several court cases brought by Democratic plaintiffs and inquiries brought by investigators in the state of New York and Manhattan.
But Trump’s administration and his business have aggressively resisted subpoenas in recent months, blocking Democrats on the Hill and rebuffing investigators seeking information about his business dealings.
Trump has sued to prevent his accounting firm and bank from providing documents to House investigators. On Wednesday, a personal attorney for Trump, William S. Consovoy, said in federal appeals court that a sitting president was immune from prosecution — even if he shot someone.
The Transportation Committee’s subpoena also seeks legal memos regarding the GMA’s decision to allow the lease to remain in place despite a passage in it barring elected officials from benefiting from it and the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign or domestic governments.
Government officials from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and other nations have booked business at the hotel, and a report earlier this year from the agency’s inspector general said the GSA “improperly” ignored constitutional concerns in managing the project.
In a letter accompanying the subpoena, DeFazio said that, as chairman of the committee: “it is my duty to ensure that the GSA is appropriately managing the hotel lease and that that property is not being used for unethical or unconstitutional purposes. The enclosed subpoena demands documents necessary for the committee to conduct appropriate oversight of your agency and this lease.”
Spokespeople for the GSA and the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment. GSA officials have previously said they provided more than 10,000 pages of documents to the House committee in response to an earlier request regarding the lease, but DeFazio and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), who chairs the subcommittee overseeing the GSA, have fumed at the agency’s unwillingness to provide many critical documents.
Under the lease, Trump’s company is required to pay the federal government a base rent of $3 million plus additional payments if the hotel’s revenue meets certain benchmarks.
A central focus of redeveloping the Old Post Office was generating revenue for the government. How much revenue the hotel has actually received remains unknown to the public and to the committee because, under the Trump administration, the GSA has not been willing to provide that information.
At a hearing last month, Dan Mathews, head of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service Commission, testified last year that the agency received just the base rent, indicating that the hotel had not hit benchmarks that required sharing revenue with the government.
Mathews said the agency was reviewing how much more information to release. That did not satisfy DeFazio.
“How do we know what the income is? How do we know how GSA is calculating the profits?” DeFazio said in the hearing. “We don’t know whether we are getting a damn penny out of this thing or not.”
At the hearing, DeFazio and Titus gave Murphy a deadline for Wednesday to provide the additional documents, which they say the agency has not met. “This subpoena is a result of your agency’s failure to comply with this request,” read DeFazio’s letter.
You can read the full article by Jonathan O'Connell here.