PressTV: Trump in violation of US Constitution over his DC hotel: Watchdog

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US President Donald Trump speaks during the Armed Services Ball January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks during the Armed Services Ball January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

An ethics watchdog has lodged a formal complaint with the federal government against US President Donald Trump over a lease on his Washington, DC hotel.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington is located on federal property and operates under a 2003 deal with the General Services Administration (GSA) that leased the space to Trump for 60 years.

The president owns three quarters of the lease but the paperwork explicitly forbids any elected official from holding the lease or benefiting from it.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the complaint Friday with the GSA, urging the federal agency to terminate the contract.

The group demanded the GSA declare that Trump was in violation of the $180 million lease the moment he was sworn in as president.

“The lease bans elected officials from benefiting to avoid conflicts of interest with their duties. We know Trump likes to renegotiate contracts for better deals. If that happened here, it will be the president negotiating against the government he leads. His best interests are not the same as those of the American tax payer,” said CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder.

The Trump International Hotel is shown during the Inaugural Parade on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

In other words, Trump has effectively become both the tenant and the owner of the hotel since taking office on Friday.

The lease could put the president in breach of another Constitutional clause meant to thwart foreign influence on US politics.

CREW warned that foreign diplomats could rent out space in the hotel in order to curry favor with the president or rub shoulders with his adult children who are now in charge of his business transactions.

Congressional Democrats raised the issue before Friday’s inauguration, demanding to know what the GSA planned to do to with the hotel.

Trump does not seem willing to give up the federal property. His advisers argue that the lease provision does not concern someone who is elected to office when the lease is already in place; rather it is aimed at officials who are in office when the lease is being negotiated.

Trump’s lawyer said earlier this month the president would not be divesting from any of his investments.

About Press TV
Press TV is a 24-hour English language news and documentary network, affiliated with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

IRIB is state-owned but independent of the Iranian government in its management and is the only legal TV and radio broadcaster inside Iran. IRIB’s head is appointed directly by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is considered to be close to the country’s conservative political faction. Press TV is headquartered in Tehran with offices and bureaus around the world; including London, Beirut, Damascus, Kabul, and the Gaza Strip.

*All posts on behalf of PressTV are made by Jim W. Dean
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