Titus adding committee staff to investigate Trump’s hotel

By: - March 4, 2019 4:04 pm
Emoluments Palace

(Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

Emoluments Palace
Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dina Titus is ramping up efforts to investigate a controversial government decision that allows President Donald Trump to continue to operate — and profit from — a hotel on federal property in Washington, D.C.

Titus, chairwoman of a subcommittee that oversees the agency that made the decision, is beefing up staff and reviewing recently received documents in anticipation of hearings into the matter.

The new hires are “coming but not scheduled,” Titus told the Nevada Current in an interview on Capitol Hill last week. They’ll be hired “sooner rather than later.”

In January, Titus and a colleague sent a letter to Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), asking for documents relating to a decision it made in 2017 to allow the Trump Organization to continue to lease the Old Post Office building, which houses the Trump International Hotel. Titus’ letter asked for the GSA’s communications with Trump, his family members, and others about the lease, as well as related financial and legal records.

Titus’ request came days after a report by the GSA Inspector General — an internal watchdog — found that the GSA’s decision to continue the lease failed to “properly address constitutional concerns about conflicts of interest” and that “uncertainty over the lease remains unresolved.”

Titus’ Jan. 22 letter — sent during the government shutdown — set a Feb. 8 deadline for the documents. The GSA delivered a “partial response” on Feb. 12 and said more time was needed to complete the full request, according to a congressional staff member familiar with the subcommittee’s plans.

A GSA spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

The “first dump” is now under review, the staffer said. In the meantime, the subcommittee is proceeding with efforts to hire several candidates.

Titus will likely move forward with hearings — and call on Murphy to testify — after reviewing the full set of documents, the staffer added. She wants to “get to the bottom of why her employees did not, according to the Inspector General, follow the terms of the lease.”

Earlier this year Titus charged that by personally profiting from the hotel, Trump “is essentially accepting bribes from giant corporations looking for sweetheart deals and from foreign interests currying favor.”

The Inspector General report released in January stated that the GSA “ignored the Constitution” by failing to analyze whether Trump profiting from the lease of government property for his Washington D.C. hotel is violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause.

The clause prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments.

Maryland and the District of Columbia have filed suit claiming Trump has violated the clause by profiting from foreign dignitaries and corporate entities spending money at Trump’s hotel.

Oversight of the GSA — including its decision regarding the Trump International Hotel — is going to comprise a “big part” of the subcommittee’s work this Congress, the staffer said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is another target. Titus “is going to want to make sure the impacts of climate change are part of FEMA’s disaster preparedness and response plans.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison Stevens
Allison Stevens

Allison Stevens is a Washington D.C. reporter for States Newsroom, a network of state-based nonprofit news outlets that includes Nevada Current.