Trump Organization weighs selling rights to its D.C. hotel

The announcement came one day after House Democrats subpoenaed financial records for the facility.
Image: Trump International Hotel Washington DC
The Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington.NewsBase / AP file

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By Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

The Trump Organization is considering selling off the rights to the Trump International Hotel, the Washington hotspot near the White House that's become a magnet for Republicans, lobbyists, foreign governments and legal challenges.

"Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options," Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump confirmed to NBC News in a statement Friday. "People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell."

The company said it's hired the real estate firm JLL to assist with the possible sale of its interest in the Trump International. The company's moves were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal, said the Trump Organization is hoping to pull in over $500 million from the sale — about $2 million per hotel room.

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The announcement came one day after the House Transportation Committee subpoenaed the General Services Administration for financial documents involving the hotel that the government agency has been refusing to turn over.

While the Trump Organization holds the rights to operate the hotel for 60 years, the property itself is owned by the federal government. The Trumps spent $200 million transforming the Old Post Office building into a five-star hotel.

"Political appointees at the GSA are trying to hide behind a pathetic excuse that Congress — a co-equal branch of the Federal government tasked with conducting oversight — can't have key documents regarding a federally-owned property currently leased by the president," Transportation Committee hair Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said Thursday.

NBC News reported in June that representatives of at least 22 foreign governments have spent money at various Trump properties including the hotel during his presidency. The extent of that spending is unknown because the Trump Organization is a private company and has declined to disclose that information.

"The American people have a right to know whether the President of the United States, who is serving as both the landlord and tenant of the Old Post Office Building, is violating the Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution to enrich himself, and I plan to pursue these documents with every tool at my disposal," DeFazio said.

Trump promised to donate any profits from foreign governments to his businesses to the Treasury Department. The Trump Organization sent $343,000 to Treasury for 2017 and 2018, but did not release underlying information to support that figure.

According to Trump's financial disclosure forms, he took in more than $40 million in revenues from the Washington hotel in both 2017 and 2018.

The hotel is at the center of two lawsuits alleging the president is violating the Emoluments Clause, which bars the president from profiting for foreign governments. One of those challenges, by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland, had been dismissed but was revived by a federal appeals court on Oct. 15.