Former president Donald Trump's D.C. hotel operated with an alarming lack of oversight from the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that manages his company's lease of the Old Post Office Building, according to a new congressional report.
The GSA "failed to examine ethical conflicts and constitutional issues posed by then-President Donald Trump’s refusal to divest from the property," according to NBC News, which obtained a copy of the report from House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The GSA also failed to "track foreign government payments to the hotel or identify the origins of more than $75 million in loans made by Trump and his family to shore up its troubled finances."
The report is based on 14,000 pages of newly obtained GSA records that were first requested by the committee two years ago, but which the Trump administration declined to turn over.
"The GSA 'washed its hands of any responsibility' to review whether the emoluments clauses of the Constitution were being followed, the report said, including by trying to ensure that profits from foreign governments didn’t benefit Trump," NBC News reports. "The agency did not take any steps to identify expenditures by foreign or domestic government officials and implemented 'zero checks and balances' to make sure the hotel's calculations of such payments were 'fair, complete and accurate,' the committee found."
Back in October, another House committee found that the former president had “grossly exaggerated the financial health" of the hotel. Trump claimed the hotel had generated $150 million in income during his presidency, when in fact it lost more than $70 million.
According to the new report, Trump and three of his adult children — Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump — loaned the hotel more than $75 million to keep it afloat. The Trumps ultimately forgave $72 million of those loans, with the hotel repaying less than $3.5 million. However, the report found that the GSA "never made any effort to identify the origin of these loans and whether the ultimate source of the financing posed any constitutional concerns."
Although Trump transferred ownership of the hotel to a trust controlled by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg after the 2016 election, the former president never divested his financial interest — which, according to the report, was “problematic” and “created multiple conflicts of interested during his presidency that both he and GSA refused to properly address.”
"For example, the report noted that political appointees at GSA were responsible for making federal real estate decisions 'that impacted the president’s personal properties as well as that of his competitors,'" NBC News reports.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who chairs the committee, told the network that the report “brings to light GSA’s flagrant mismanagement of the Old Post Office lease and its attempt to duck its responsibility to support and defend the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clauses.”
Last month, the former president reached an agreement to sell the Trump International Hotel in D.C. for for $375 million.