According to an MSNBC column written by a former White House lawyer, a new report issued this week criticized the General Services Administration (GSA) for not investigating a $75 million cash infusion that Donald Trump and his family used to prop up their struggling Washington, D.C. hotel.
According to Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, the report issued by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure indicates that Trump's lease of the Old Post Office from the federal government that became Trump International was likely illegal.
Noting that the GSA claimed in 2017 that the Trump family was in complete compliance with the terms of the lease, Painter claims the new report paints a portrait of sloppy work that allowed the family retain possession of the hotel despite clear conflicts of interest.
Of particular note is the $75 million the Trumps invested in the hotel after an initial $200 million to refurbish the property.
"The bottom line is that every dollar that went to the corporation that operated the hotel enriched Trump. Trump obviously received a benefit from the federal government’s lease of the Old Post Office. The GSA lawyers who said this arrangement complied with the terms of the lease focused on form over substance. And they surely knew who their boss was: a GSA administrator appointed by none other than Trump himself," the attorney wrote.
Noting an NBC report that stated that the GSA "failed to examine ethical conflicts and constitutional issues posed by then-President Donald Trump’s refusal to divest from the property, a new congressional report says,” the ethics attorney pointed to one accusation that stood out.
Once again quoting the NBC report that stated, "The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's report found that the General Services Administration did not 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," Painter followed up with, "Apparently, the GSA did not know where $75 million of that money came from. What we do know — and what the GSA knew at the time — is that the Trump Organization has substantial business dealings with Russia and several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia. We also knew then that foreign diplomats and other foreign nationals frequented the Trump hotel throughout the Trump presidency."
Recalling accusations throughout the Trump presidency that he was in violations of the emoluments clause that should have prevented the former president from cashing in while in office, Painter wrote, "During the whole four years — from the day we filed our suit in January 2017 until the day it was dismissed as moot after Trump left office — we were hoping the federal courts would enforce the emoluments clause because it was clear that the executive branch, whose senior officials take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States, would not do its job."
"Now, we learn more details about how, in particular, the GSA, the landlord of the Trump hotel lease, simply looked the other way," he accused.
You can read more here.