Donald Trump, Swamp King, Is Officially Swimming In Washington Money





In what many believed was an improbable coup for a New York billionaire,

Donald Trump managed to win the presidency in part by promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington. He would excel in this purgation of corruption, he argued, because he had so much experience benefiting from it. The phrase was repeated at rallies, in debates and television interviews, at town halls and in tweets until it became a sort of mantra. Under his administration, gone would be the days of greedy politicians lining their pockets and looking out for their own interests instead of worrying about the American people, he promised.

Nine months after the election, however, it seems the opposite is true. A distinctly Trumpian swamp has displaced the old as a new breed of G.O.P. and foreign lobbyists have ascended alongside the young administration. At the center of this new Washington power structure is Trump’s D.C. hotel, which has quickly become the best place to see Trump’s swamp creatures at work—mixing and mingling over sabered bottles of champagne while pouring money into the president’s pockets. According to >The Washington Post, the Trump Organization has turned a close to a $2 million profit in the last four months at its Trump International Hotel. The historic, gilded building, carved into the Old Post Office Building, sits just five blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House and has drawn the president for dinner several times—becoming a de facto parlor room for members of his Cabinet, his innermost circle, and his most fervent supporters hoping catch a glimpse of it all.

A $1.97 million profit in a third of a year, especially in a hotel’s first year, is nothing to sniff at. It’s particularly impressive, however, since the Trump Organization had projected that it would actually lose $2.1 million during the first four months of 2017 as it established itself in Washington and tried to gain its footing with guests and the local convention business, according to the Post. The Trump Hotel swung open its doors last fall, in the final stretch of the presidential race. Two days before the election, I stayed a night, and was one of a small handful of people who had booked a room, sat at the bar, and dined at the lobby restaurant.

But the election unexpectedly swung Trump’s way, and so did profits. The Post reports that guests paid an average of $652.98 a night to stay there, likely making it the most expensive hotel in the city and surpassing what the company had anticipated by 57 percent (in November, I paid about $200 less for my room). Visitors to the hotel have also hurdled over what the Trump Organization expected in terms of food and drinks, as well, topping $8.2 million.

While President Trump turned over the management of his properties to his two sons before he took office, he still retains an ownership stake in the hotel. This prompted immediate ire from ethics experts and lawmakers, who questioned whether or not he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prevents a president from accepting gifts or money from foreign governments. At issue was whether a foreign official staying at his hotel, which he’d continue to personally profit from while occupying the Oval Office, constituted a violation of the clause.

A number of people believed it did, and were ready to act on it. On the day of his inauguration, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the president, claiming that Trump’s seat in the White House has given his new International Hotel in D.C. unfair benefits and advantages. The suit was followed by a similar one brought by a D.C. restaurant a couple months later. In January, Trump tried to quell concerns by promising to donate any foreign-government profits he receives at his properties to the U.S. Treasury Department. A few months later, however, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization argued that it was proving difficult to calculate the exact amount and said that the company is not totally keeping track of where hotel guests come from.

Even so, the Department of Justice defended the Trump Organization’s right to accept payments from foreign governments, in a legal brief filed in the CREW case in June, arguing that because stays and service at a Trump-owned property are fair-value exchanges, they do not violate the Emoluments Clause. The president’s critics aren’t convinced: that same month, attorneys general for the state of Maryland and Washington, D.C., filed a suit claiming that he has violated the Constitution. The suit alleges that Trump is “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors,” constituting “unprecedented constitutional violations.”

These cases face uphill legal battles, but they add to the list of areas in which President Trump is under siege. He faces an investigation by special counsel

Robert Mueller into his campaign’s connections to Russian actors who interfered with the presidential election. On Capitol Hill, Republicans are paying less and less attention to the president’s legislative demands or domestic agenda (that he’s spent the last couple days attacking

Mitch McConnell likely won’t help this matter). The courts, too, have proved generally unsympathetic to the administration’s arguments in favor of its travel bans, immigration orders, and environmental deregulations, many of which have become tied up in litigation. Infighting among his own staff has made it nearly impossible to keep any of this under control.

Governing, it turns out, is hard to do, and unbelievably, being president of the United States is not a walk down easy street. Being president and someone who owns a hotel within spitting distance of the White House, however, is much simpler. Certainly, it is more lucrative, and Trump doesn’t need McConnell or Mueller’s help to cash those checks.

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Source : https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/donald-trump-hotel-profits

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