Congressman Nadler Statement on Resolution of Inquiry into the Lease of the Trump Hotel

Jul 27, 2017 Issues: Transportation, Trump

WASHINGTON D.C - Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) voiced his support for a Resolution of Inquiry seeking further information on the ethical and Constitutional concerns related to the Trump Hotel’s lease agreement at the General Services Administration's (GSA) Old Post Office.  The Resolution of Inquiry, introduced in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Hank Johnson (D-GA), aims to determine the legality of the Hotel’s lease and to ensure that the lease does not violate the Emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“This Resolution of Inquiry requests basic documents that this committee would receive as a routine matter if it involved anyone other than Mr. Trump,” Congressman Nadler asserted. “If the lease is legal, then the documents should support that assertion. There is no legitimate reason for anyone to oppose this Resolution other than to engage in a cover-up. I urge my colleagues to support this Resolution of Inquiry, to stand with taxpayers, to protect the public interest, and to reject this President’s efforts to use his position for private personal gain.”

 

Click the photo above for video of Rep. Nadler’s remarks, which follow below as prepared:

"Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this Resolution of Inquiry, which requests documents and legal memoranda related to the Trump Hotel’s lease agreement with the government at the GSA’s Old Post Office in Washington DC.

"Mr. Chairman, one of the primary functions of this committee is to conduct oversight of the General Services Administration, and to ensure that lease agreements comply with the law and protect the public interest. The Trump Hotel lease at the Old Post Office presents a number of concerns that should be of interest to this committee. If we allow this lease to stand, particularly without any significant scrutiny, we are abdicating our responsibility and letting GSA and Trump violate the law.

"First, the lease agreement explicitly prohibits any federal elected official from receiving “any share or part of the Lease, or any benefit that may arise therefrom.” Yet, the GSA contracting officer has determined that the Trump Hotel is in full compliance despite the clear language of the lease that no federal elected official may be a beneficiary of the lease, and the undisputed fact that President Trump is the sole beneficiary of the trust that retains his interest in the hotel. GSA has not shared any legal written opinion to justify this determination, and refuses to provide any documents or even answer questions in personal briefings.

"There are good reasons why that clause exists. Federal elected officials, and especially the President, have significant influence over GSA. The President appoints the GSA Administrator and other senior officials who oversee the lease. The President can exercise control over GSA’s budget and management. These are clear and obvious conflicts of interest that threaten GSA’s ability to enforce the lease in a manner that protects the taxpayers and not the President himself.

"Second, the lease is a clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which states that the President may not receive anything of value from foreign governments without the consent of Congress. Between October 1 and March 31, lobbyists working on behalf of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent $270,000 on rooms, catering, and parking at the Trump Hotel. In December of last year, Bahraini diplomats moved the country’s National Day festivities to the hotel’s ballroom.  And in February, Kuwait moved its annual gala from the Four Seasons to the Trump Hotel. All of these actions by foreign governments, through the lease, put cash directly into the President’s pocket.

"At a hearing earlier this month, I asked the Acting Administrator if GSA has evaluated whether or not the lease violates the Emoluments Clause, and he couldn’t answer. Worse, he indicated he wasn’t even trying to determine if the lease complies with the Constitution. The GSA Administrator just kept repeating that the contracting offer determined that the tenant (Trump) is in compliance with the lease and that GSA’s legal department supports that decision. But he would never say that the tenant, or the lease, is in compliance with the Constitution. He could not provide any written evidence that the lease is legal, he could not directly rebut the clear violations of the Emoluments Clause, and he refused to share any documents with this committee that supports GSA’s decision.

"Ranking Member DeFazio, Ranking Member Johnson, and other committee leaders, have repeatedly requested information from GSA. All of those requests have been denied. In fact, GSA confirmed it will only respond to requests from Republicans and not Democrats, which is obnoxious and a clear break from historical norms.

"This Resolution of Inquiry requests basic documents that this committee would receive as a routine matter if it involved anyone other than Mr. Trump. If the lease is legal, then the documents should support that assertion. There is no legitimate reason for anyone to oppose this Resolution other than to engage in a cover-up. I urge my colleagues to support this Resolution of Inquiry, to stand with taxpayers, to protect the public interest, and to reject this President’s efforts to use his position for private personal gain."

 

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