The lease to the Washington, D.C., hotel run by Donald Trump’s family company while he was president, a symbol of his power to Republicans and of corruption to his critics, has been sold by his family company to a Miami-based investor fund.
The Trump Organization said Wednesday that it had completed the sale of a long-term lease of the Trump International Hotel to CGI Merchant Group of Miami for what it described as a record price per room for the city.
Sources close to the deal, demanding anonymity to discuss the private transaction, have said that the price was $375 million US, handing the Trump family business perhaps as much as $100 million in profit.
The new owners planned to remove the Trump name from the facade and rebrand the hotel a Waldorf Astoria. Workers were seen removing signage from the hotel Wednesday night.
The Associated Press reported earlier this year that the group of investors includes former Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez.
Selling price defied expectations
Many hotel brokers, owners and consultants did not expect the 263-room hotel down the street from the White House to fetch such a high price. The hotel lost more than $70 million during the four years of Trump’s presidency, including in each year before pandemic shutdowns.
The former president’s son, Eric Trump, said on Wednesday the Trump Organization took a “dilapidated and underutilized building and transformed it into one of the most iconic hotels in the world.” He hailed the “the largest sale of a historic hotel in over 15 years.”
Democrats in Congress are questioning the transaction, which works out to more than $1.4 million a room. Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House committee on oversight, characterized it Wednesday as “the latest in a long line of questionable deals, conflicts of interest and constitutional violations involving former president Trump and his Washington, D.C. hotel.”
“The former president will personally receive tens of millions of dollars in profits from selling his lease at a significant premium over market rates, yet the American public still does not know whose money is paying for this deal,” said Maloney.
The Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., has always presented a clear conflict of interest. This sale ends an era of corruption. I’m now working on legislation which will ensure no future <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/POTUS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#POTUS</a> can benefit from this sort of arrangement. <a href=”https://t.co/5kvUZAYYFY”>https://t.co/5kvUZAYYFY</a>
The committee earlier this month requested documents from CGI listing all of its investors.
Democrats also want to ensure there are stricter, enforced laws regarding the business holdings of an incoming president.
Trump, D.C. just settled case related to hotel
The hotel was a magnet for lobbyists, diplomats and others seeking to curry favour with the president. Democrats said it sullied the reputation of the presidency, pitted his financial interest against public interest and possibly broke the law. Several lawsuits challenging his ownership of the lease were unsuccessful.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, said Thursday the “Trump Hotel will live on as a black eye on government ethics.”
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The controversies started from the beginning of his presidency. The D.C. Attorney General alleged in a lawsuit that the Trump presidential inaugural committee overpaid for events at the hotel and enriched the former president’s family in the process.
The committee raised an unprecedented $107 million to host events celebrating Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
Last week, Attorney General Karl Racine announced a settlement in that suit had been reached that would see the Trump Organization and the committee pay $750,000.
Hours later, Trump blasted Racine and noted that the settlement includes no admission of guilt or liability.
The hotel is the former Old Post Office building, and its still formally owned by the federal government. The Trump Organization won rights to fix up the building and run it as a hotel in exchange for paying the government annual rent and a cut of profit upon a sale.