The Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC continues to be a source of seemingly obvious conflicts of interest for the Trump administration.
And after nine executives from T-Mobile booked reservations at Trump’s hotel, the lingering questions of whether or not President Trump has a more positive view of companies seeking favors from his government who choose to patronize his businesses continue to add up.
A recent Washington Post report found that T-Mobile CEO John Legere, as well as eight other top executives like its Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technical officer, and Chief Strategy Officer, all stayed at the Trump International Hotel following its April 2018 announcement that it would be merging with Sprint, making the new proposed T-Mobile worth a staggering $146 billion.
T-Mobile executives kept coming back to the hotel, according to the Post.
“By mid-June, seven weeks after the announcement of the merger, hotel records indicated that one T-Mobile executive was making his 10th visit to the hotel,” wrote the Post‘s David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell. “Legere appears to have made at least four visits to the Trump hotel, walking the lobby in his T-Mobile gear.”
The VIP Arrivals lists obtained by The Post — in which Trump hotel executives alerted their staff to foreign officials, corporate executives, long-term guests, Trump family friends and big spenders — provide an inside look at some of the hotel’s customers. The Post obtained lists for about a dozen days in 2018.
Those lists showed 38 nights of hotel stays by the T-Mobile executives; because The Post’s data is incomplete, the number could be higher.
That report comes on the same day as a Wall Street Journal report on the General Services Administration’s Inspector General saying the agency “improperly ignored” the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That section of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8) prohibits presidents and their families from receiving unsanctioned gifts from foreign governments as a means of ensuring they won’t be compromised.
In addition to T-Mobile, others attempting to curry favor with the Trump administration have opted to stay at the hotel — which is located just down the street from the White House. A November 2016 report from the Post found that foreign diplomats from multiple countries were changing their reservations at other hotels to book events at Trump’s in order to be able to compliment him personally during official meetings.
“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ” an Asian diplomat told the paper.
Richard Painter, who is a former ethics attorney for the George W. Bush White House, told ThinkProgress after the publication of the 2016 Post report that he viewed diplomats staying at the Trump International Hotel as a violation of the Emoluments Clause.
“Anything in excess of fair market value is a gift,” Painter told ThinkProgress. “I don’t think you can take into account the value of the name Trump in calculating fair market value.”
While Trump made a show of separating himself from his real estate empire prior to his inauguration using a table full of seemingly blank paper, his name remains on the hotel, which is run by the company maintained by his adult children, Donald Jr. and Eric. And whether it’s T-Mobile executives or foreign diplomats, it will likely remain a place where those seeking his approval want to be seen.
And Jimmy Carter still had to sell his peanut farm.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.