Since the day he took office, President Trump’s critics have been seeking more information about his company’s lease to operate a hotel inside a taxpayer-owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
They have tried asking for records but have gotten nowhere.
Now, Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform are suing the government’s General Services Administration, which manages the lease for the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
“This hotel is not just a building with Donald Trump’s name on it,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s ranking Democrat. “It is a glaring symbol of the Trump administration’s lack of accountability and a daily reminder of the refusal by Republicans in Congress to do their job. This may be standard operating procedure in foreign countries, but not here. Not in America.”
Before Trump began his run for the presidency, his company, The Trump Organization, signed a 60-year lease with the GSA to occupy the historic Old Post Office Pavilion, just blocks from the White House.
Once elected, Trump made it clear that he would not divest himself of the property and instead placed it into a trust, run by his two eldest sons.
House Democrats have asked GSA for documents relating to the lease, operations of the hotel, monthly income statements and foreign payments. GSA has not released those documents.
Cummings says the refusal to provide lawmakers with information violates a 1928 federal law that authorizes any seven members of the House oversight committee to get records from a federal agency. The lawsuit was filed by 17 committee Democrats.
The committee noted in a statement that “during the Obama Administration, GSA complied with requests from Democrats and produced a wide range of documents in unredacted form. After Donald Trump was sworn in as president, however, GSA suddenly reversed its position and began refusing all Democratic requests for documents relating to the hotel.”
Cummings said GSA’s stance is “denying our ability as members of Congress to fulfill our constitutional duty to act as a check on the executive branch.”
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. GSA spokeswoman Pamela Dixon told NPR in an email that the agency “does not comment on pending litigation.”
Just a few weeks ago, a federal judge heard arguments in a separate lawsuit, questioning whether the Trump International Hotel violates the Constitution’s ban on presidents receiving emoluments, or gifts.