On the day before taking office, President-elect Donald Trump arrived in Washington, D.C., to kick off inaugural festivities.
His first stop: a leadership luncheon at his new five-star hotel, the 263-room Trump International Hotel, blocks from the White House.
The hotel has been the center of a debate over conflicts between Trump’s business interests and the presidency.
Incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday Trump’s use of the hotel for a reception shouldn’t come as a “shocker” to anyone, and he even gave his boss’s hotel a plug.
“It’s an absolutely stunning hotel; I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by,” he told the press briefing.
Norm Eisen, former special counsel to President Obama for ethics and government reform, quickly tweeted that Spicer’s statement would be considered an ethics violation once Trump is in the White House.
Trump has a 60-year lease with the U.S. General Services Administration, a government agency that owns the building where the hotel is located. The GSA contract says that no “elected official of the government of the United States” may hold that lease. That provision has raised questions about what will happen to the lease once Trump takes office, but so far, the issue appears unresolved.
Ahead of the inauguration, Trump is making good use of his Washington hotel. He also showed up for a quick dinner there Wednesday. At the Thursday luncheon, he praised his surroundings.
“This is a gorgeous room, a total genius must have built this place,” he quipped.
The media — which have been barred from the hotel during the inauguration weekend — were allowed in briefly to cover the event.