During Donald Trump’s presidency, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, China and Malaysia spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump International Hotel in Washington at the same time they were trying to influence U.S. foreign policy, according to investigative findings released Monday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Hotel receipts obtained by the Oversight Committee show that the then-prime minister of Malaysia and his delegation spent $259,724 at the hotel during a one-week stay in September 2017, including a $10,000 room and a $1,500 “Personal Trainer” for embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak, as well as $9,229 for “Coffee Break[s].” At the time, Razak was unsuccessfully lobbying the Trump administration to drop an investigation into a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund he had co-founded.
The Saudi Defense Ministry spent $85,961 during a one-week stay in March 2018, including renting several $10,500 suites, according to the Oversight Committee findings. The Saudi revenues for the Trump hotel came during a period when Saudi Arabia and the UAE were lobbying the Trump administration to support them during their blockade against economic rival Qatar.
Qatari officials and connected companies spent at least $307,941 at the Trump hotel from late 2017 through mid-2018, according to the Oversight Committee’s findings.
The Qatari government said the committee’s “findings are inaccurate,” and that the individuals named as hotel guests are “private citizens.” The committee said that they have the last name of the ruling family.
The Trump Organization’s former accounting firm Mazars USA released the hotel ledgers to the Oversight Committee as part of its investigation into the former president's businesses and potential conflicts of interest. The bulk of the ledgers released Monday show line-item charges for rooms, room service, laundry, restaurant meals and banquets during the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018.
The committee’s chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., detailed the new findings in a letter Monday to acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall of the National Archives and Records Administration.
“These documents sharply call into question the extent to which President Trump was guided by his personal financial interest while in office rather than the best interests of the American people,” Maloney said.
In the letter she requests presidential records from NARA that could be related to attempts by foreign governments and lobbyists working on their behalf to influence the Trump administration by spending money at the Trump hotel. A spokesperson for NARA said, "We are in receipt of the letter and will respond in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA)."
Trump handed over day-to-day control of the Washington hotel to his two eldest sons during his presidency. In a statement, Eric Trump said: “As a company, we went to tremendous lengths to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, not due to any legal requirement, but because of the respect we have towards the office of the presidency. We walked away from billions of dollars in new deals, ceased all international expansion, engaged with an outside ethics advisor to review any material transactions and furthermore, have voluntarily donated all profits from foreign government patronage at our properties back to the United States Treasury on an annual basis. Moreover, my father is the first president in history to donate his annual salary back to the United States government. No president has made a greater financial sacrifice for the benefit of the country.”
The Malaysian expenditures at the Trump hotel were the most extensive in a one-week period the Oversight Committee has found to date. The Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, was under investigation by the Justice Department for embezzling billions and laundering them through U.S. financial institutions to buy exclusive properties in the U.S., a yacht and fine art by Monet and van Gogh.
The Justice Department proceeded with its civil forfeiture and returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the Malaysian people last year. Razak was voted out of office in 2018, and in August of this year a Malaysian court ordered him to begin a 12-year prison sentence for his conduct related to 1MDB. A spokesperson for the Malaysian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Elliott Broidy, a Republican fundraiser and Trump ally who was later convicted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Malaysia and other countries, also spent more than $5,000 at the hotel during the week the Malaysian delegation stayed there, according to hotel receipts obtained by the Oversight Committee. As part of his plea, Broidy admitted to illegally lobbying Trump and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the civil forfeiture proceedings against 1MBD.
Broidy spent $2,970 more at the Trump International Hotel in October 2017 as he was lobbying on behalf of the UAE during the Qatar blockade, according to the Oversight Committee. In January 2021, Trump pardoned Broidy. Broidy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In total, Saudi Arabia and the UAE spent at least $164,929 at the Trump hotel from the latter part of 2017 through the middle of 2018. Spokespeople for the embassies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In May 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Washington. According to the Oversight Committee, documents from Mazars show the Turkish Embassy sponsored two stays at the Trump hotel around the time of his visit. Hotel records show that an account for the “Embassy of Turkey Delegation” was closed on May 9, 2017, and an account for the “Embassy of Turkey” was closed on May 23, 2017, according to the Oversight Committee. The documentation that was obtained did not show how much the embassy spent at the hotel during either of these stays.
The documents did show that a lobbyist for Turkey, Trump donor Brian Ballard, spent $21,209 over 37 nights at the Trump hotel from September 2017 to April 2018, according to the Oversight Committee.
In a statement, Ballard said: “Prior to purchasing a residence in Washington in 2018, I stayed at a number of hotels in Washington, including the Trump Hotel, and paid fair market rates for those nights. There is nothing unusual, newsworthy or noteworthy about that fact.”
The Turkish Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In August 2017, the Chinese Embassy delegation spent $19,391 at Trump International Hotel, less than three months before Trump visited Beijing, according to the committee’s findings.
The committee noted that the casino magnate Steve Wynn, a Trump friend who had significant business interests in China, stayed at the Trump hotel twice in the fall of 2017, spending $9,370. The Justice Department sued Wynn, seeking to compel him to retroactively register as an agent of China. Last month a judge dismissed the lawsuit. Spokespeople for the Chinese Embassy and Wynn did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Maloney said Mazars continues to share Trump hotel-related ledgers with the Oversight Committee.
In a statement, Mazars said: “Due to our industry’s professional obligations Mazars cannot discuss any clients — current or former, the status of our relationships, or the nature of our services in a public forum without client consent or as required by law. We remain committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations."