Documents show big foreign gov’t spending at Trump hotel
Nov 14, 2022, 5:14 PM | Updated: Nov 15, 2022, 12:50 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump hotel in Washington took in more than $750,000 from six foreign governments at sensitive moments in their U.S. relations, with guests spending as much as $10,000 per room a night, according to documents from the Trump family company’s former accountants released Monday by a congressional committee.
The Trump International Hotel received at least $259,724 on a visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other officials in September 2017 while the U.S. Justice Department was investigating his role in a money laundering scandal, according to a statement released by the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates spent at least $164,929 that same year and in 2018 for hotel stays while trying to win over support after their blockade of Qatar, according to the committee, citing documents from former Trump accountants Mazars USA. For its part, Qatar spent more than $300,000 at the hotel.
The heavy foreign government spending at Donald Trump’s hotel, since sold to a Miami-based investment firm, has been reported before but details and the timing of this snapshot of payments are new. Two days after a March 2018 stay by the Saudis, the committee noted, then-president Trump approved $1.3 billion in arms sales to the country.
“These documents sharply call into question the extent to which President Trump was guided by his personal financial interest while in office rather than the best interests of the American people,” Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, Dem.-New York, said in statement.
The Trump Organization said the former president, far from being influenced by spending at his hotel and other properties, made an effort to avoid even the appearance he would be so influenced.
“We walked away from billions of dollars in new deals, ceased all international expansion, engaged with an outside ethics advisor to review any material transactions and furthermore, have voluntarily donated all profits from foreign government patronage at our properties back to the United States Treasury on an annual basis,” said Eric Trump, a son helping run the business. “No president has made a greater financial sacrifice for the benefit of the country.”
The Trump hotel down the street from the White House, now a Waldorf Astoria, drew criticism from the start of Trump’s presidency for taking money from GOP poliicians, companies and foreign governments eager to curry favor with him. The hotel lost tens of millions of dollars each year while he was in office, though the Trump family did well in the end — selling it for $375 million earlier this year, allowing it to pocket as much as $100 million in profit.
Along with the Mazars documents, the Oversight Committee released a letter sent Monday to the National Archives and Records Adminstration for reports and communications related to spending at the hotel and policies or investigations that involved the foreign governments at the time.
The committee had previously disclosed that the Trump hotel had taken in more than $3.75 million from foreign governments while Trump was president.
Among the details in Monday’s release was that Prime Minister Razak spend $1,500 on a personal trainer and more than $8,000 for in-room lunches while being investigated for money laundering in the U.S. The Malaysian government later prosecuted Razak.
The Saudi Ministry of Defense spent $85,961 in a March 2018 stay, booking several suites at the hotel for $10,500 each, the most expensive rooms available. The Qatari government spent heavily, too. Between January and early March 2018, the ruling family of Sheikh Al Thani paid nearly $300,000 for an extended stay at the hotel.
The Mazars documents show that lobbyists for the Turkish govenment and a state-owned bank spent more than $80,000 during a Justice Department money laundering investigation of that bank that Istanbul wanted dropped, according to the committee. And two months before a 2017 meeting between Tump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, that country’s embassy spent nearly $20,000 at the hotel.
This story was first published on November 14, 2022. It was updated on November 15, 2022 to correct that Saudi Arabia did not invade Qatar and to specify that the dollar figure reflects spending by both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another participant in the blockade.
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