In an extensive examination by the New York Times into who exactly stays and dines at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., several patrons admitted that expensive dinners and overnight stays are their way of expressing their thanks to Donald Trump for administration policies that benefit them.
According to the report, the hotel has done a brisk business with lobbyists and other Beltway insiders to the point that there is a monthly happy hour called Trump First Tuesdays, "which draws dozens of lobbyists, business executives and political operatives."
While few admit that it is direct payback to the president -- which would be illegal -- others are more open about their motivations.
According to Sharon Bolan Yerby, an evangelical minister from Dallas who dined at the hotel last fall before heading over to the White House for a "faith briefing," visiting Trump International was her way of supporting the president.
“President Trump has really been on the side of the evangelicals and we want to do everything we can to make him successful,” she told the Times. "And if that means having dinner or staying in his hotel, we are going to do so.”
The Times reports, "Since Mr. Trump became president, there have been thousands of visits to his properties, not only by Mr. Trump himself, but by foreign leaders, lobbyists, Republican candidates, members of Congress, cabinet members and others with ties to the president. At least 90 members of Congress, 250 Trump administration officials and more than 110 foreign officials have been spotted at Trump properties since 2017, according to social media posts and counts by various watchdog groups."
According to a California Republican running for a House seat in 2020, he not only stayed at the Trump D.C. hotel, but also a Trump property in Las Vegas during a visit.
“When you have an event there or do something there, it signifies that you are supporting the president, and supporting what he is doing,” Omar Navarro admitted. “It sends a clear message.”
The report notes aides to Trump say he never explicitly suggests people seeking favors stay at his hotels and resorts -- but he makes sure they know about them in private conversations.
"Mr. Trump, they said, spends more time talking about his properties in private than he does in public, and even as president, remains intimately involved with club minutiae, like knowing all the names on his Mar-a-Lago membership roll," the Times reports. "Anthony Scaramucci, for example, the former White House communications director who lasted 11 days in the job, said that 'no one pressured' him to stay for as much as $700 a night at the Trump hotel in Washington, where he lived during part of his short tenure."
Wining and dining at Trump International is no guarantee of staying in Trump's favor, the report points out, noting that fired DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen was "a regular at a see-and-be-seen table at BLT, the restaurant in the Trump hotel."
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