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Trump hotel sales pitch boasts of profit potential from foreign governments

Edward Helmore
Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A glossy sales prospectus for the Trump Organization’s hotel in downtown Washington – the same hotel that has been the focus of allegations that the president is profiting from his office – identifies a key source of profit potential: foreign governments.

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“Tremendous upside potential exists for a new owner to fully capitalize on government related business upon rebranding of the asset,” reads the 46-page investor pitch for the Trump International Hotel, which was compiled by JLL Hotels & Hospitality and reported by CNN.

The Trump Organization signed the lease for the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue in 2013. It opened in October 2016, shortly before Donald Trump won the White House.

Controversy over Trump’s continued links to his business holdings, which he did not sell off after winning the White House, has been a theme of his presidency.

Efforts to sell off the hotel lease were first reported last month.

Eric Trump, the president’s second son, said in a statement at the time: “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

The sale brochure, CNN reported, claims the hotel has turned away foreign government bookings, “sacrifices” it claims cost it 17,100 lost room nights in 2019, resulting in $5.3m in lost room revenue and $3.9m in lost food and beverage revenue.

The brochure does not say how much business from foreign governments the hotel accepted, CNN said.

In 2018 the Washington Post reported that a Saudi-backed lobbyist paid $270,000 to book nearly 500 rooms for US military veterans soon after the 2016 election.

Ironically, CNN reported that the sales brochure identifies another source of possible increased revenue: the building of a new Amazon HQ in nearby Arlington, Virginia.

The agent hired by the Trump Organization to sell the hotel says Amazon – owned by Jeff Bezos, also owner of the Washington Post and the target of considerable presidential invective – could add 880,000 room nights in seven years.

Other Trump properties, including golf clubs in Ireland and Scotland, have been subject to accusations that they have profited from US taxpayer-backed bookings and bookings by foreign governments.

The most explicit claim that one of the president’s businesses would violate constitutional emoluments clauses against profiteering from elected office was lodged in September, when Trump’s Miami Doral golf club was named as the site of the next G20 summit.

Following an outcry, Trump dropped the idea.