Democrats demand to know if Trump has violated his DC hotel lease

Trump: I will turn business over to my sons
Trump: I will turn business over to my sons

A group of Democratic lawmakers is calling on a government agency to determine whether President Donald Trump has violated a term of the lease for his hotel in Washington, D.C.

Last month, the General Services Administration, which oversees the lease, said it was premature to issue a determination before the inauguration. Democratic lawmakers say that since President Trump has now taken office, the GSA must respond. They worry that Trump will profit from his presidency and are seeking more information about the hotel's operations.

Lawmakers are requesting monthly revenue and expense figures for the hotel from the GSA. They say Trump's company reported losses totaling more than $1.1 million in September and October. But they suspect that November's revenue is much higher.

"The possibility that President Trump will profit from large increases in hotel revenues because he was elected President highlights the grave concerns we have raised for months about his conflicts of interest and potential violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution," Representatives Elijah Cummings, Peter DeFazio, Gerald Connolly and Andre Carson said in a letter Monday.

Related: Ethics group lawsuit says Trump is violating Constitution

In December, the same lawmakers released details of a briefing between themselves and the GSA. They said that the agency's deputy commissioner told them that Trump would be in violation of the agreement the moment he took office.

"The deputy commissioner made it clear Mr. Trump must divest himself not only of managerial control, but of all ownership interest as well," said the congressmen in the letter.

But that same day, the GSA said it had made no final determination and hasn't provided an update since. So the Democrats continue to pressure the GSA to take action.

"We write to request specific information regarding how the General Services Administration (GSA) is addressing President Donald Trump's apparent breach of the Old Post Office lease agreement his company entered into with the U.S. Government for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.," the lawmakers said Monday

Senator Senator Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper joined in, sending their own letter to the GSA and requesting all communication between the GSA and the Trump Administration.

Related: Trump will leave business, but won't sell

"Because President Trump has refused to fully divest from his conflicts of interests related to the Trump Organization, on Friday, January 20, he effectively became both landlord and tenant of the Old Post Office building. This scenario, the senators wrote, "is a breach of the plain language of the lease agreement and presents unmanageable conflicts of interest for career GSA officials and President Trump," the senators said.

Trump and his lawyer have said he'll resolve any possible conflicts by handing control of the business to his sons. But because Trump still retains ownership of his companies, it's unclear that the transfer of control will avoid violating the terms of the lease.

At Trump's press conference on January 11, his attorney Sheri Dillon also said Trump plans to donate any profits from foreign government payments to his hotels to the U.S. Treasury.

Separately on Monday, an ethics group sued President Trump, charging that he is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments through his business empire, including his Washington hotel, without congressional consent.

The lawsuit by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) cites the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal office holders from accepting any "present, emolument, office or title" from a foreign state. An emolument is any kind of payment made to a federal official, according to the suit.

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