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US bids farewell to Trump hotel that offered luxury and access

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US bids farewell to Trump hotel that offered luxury and access

Occupying an entire city block just steps from the White House, the Trump International Hotel is a striking neoclassical palace steeped in more than a century of Washington tradition.

The imposing atrium features a massive skylight that dazzles the lobby bar in the winter sunshine as the nation’s powerful agents sip $ 140 glasses of wine poured in Hungarian crystal, or $ 10,000 glasses of aged Macallan whiskey.

After a drink, guests with $ 385 to spare can rejuvenate with a “hydrafacial” skin treatment downstairs before laying back on designer bedding in one of 263 stately wood-paneled rooms.

“It’s a beautiful place,” former White House spokesman Sean Spicer said of the hotel, which will be turned into a Waldorf Astoria in the New Year, ending six years of ownership by Donald Trump.

“It is a place that he is very proud of, and I think it is a symbol of the type of government he is going to run.”

Spicer turned out to be right.

Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington, but instead opened his own quagmire on Pennsylvania Avenue, inviting a dizzying array of conflicts of interest.

During Trump’s four years in office, the 19th-century Romanesque Revival-style hotel became a magnet for major donors, corporate lobbyists and foreign governments looking to spend heavily in hopes of gaining influence.

“The law is totally on my side, which means the president cannot have a conflict of interest,” Trump said in 2016 when asked about combining his day job with promoting his expanding business empire.

‘Influence peddling’
The lobby group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tracked 150 officials from 77 foreign governments who visited Trump property during his presidency.

According to a congressional investigation, the Washington hotel received $ 3.7 million from countries such as China, Kuwait, Turkey, India, Brazil and Romania.

The Philippine government told a Philippine television station that its decision to use the hotel for the 2018 Independence Day celebration was “a declaration that we have a good relationship with this president.”

The clientele expressed concern about possible violations of the anti-corruption provisions written by the nation’s founders that restrict the acceptance of gifts from foreign officials.

“Donald Trump should never have been allowed to keep his DC hotel as president,” said CREW Director Noah Bookbinder.

“He should have divested him along with the rest of his business before taking office. Instead, he spent four years using it for influence peddling and constitutional violations. “

In total, national political groups spent $ 3 million on the hotel at about 40 political events during the Trump era.

Special interest groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, often participated in White House meetings in conjunction with an event at the hotel, and many had favorable political results, according to CREW.

AFP approached the Trump Organization, but there was no response.

The former president handed control of his businesses over to his two adult children and a trustee when he entered the White House, vowing not to get involved while actually promoting the venues at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Trump Organization has pledged to donate its profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury.

Built in the 1890s, the former 12-story post office that houses Trump International is the third tallest building in the capital, after the Washington Monument and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

$ 12,000 per night
Scheduled for demolition multiple times, it was bailed out in 2011 when Trump outbid Hilton and Hyatt with an offer promising to invest $ 200 million in a makeover.

The hotel opened in the fall of 2016, a few months before Trump entered the White House, effectively making the new president his own owner, in violation of a provision that prohibits elected officials from “any part” of the lease. .

A review of rates by AFP found that the least expensive room in late November would cost $ 512 a night. One night in the Franklin Suite, including breakfast in bed, was offered for $ 12,109.98.

But the skyrocketing prices didn’t translate into profits.

Investigators in Congress found that the hotel lost more than $ 70 million during Trump’s presidency, concluding that it had “grossly overstated” its profits.

The Trump Organization called the report “intentionally misleading, irresponsible and unequivocally false” and described it as “political harassment.”

But reports in the US media have recorded a low occupancy as Trump International has struggled to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Trump Organization sold the lease for $ 375 million to an investment fund, which plans to reopen the hotel in the first months of 2022 as a Waldorf Astoria.

“The Trump Hotel DC stood as a bright neon sign telling foreign countries and wealthy interests how to bribe the president and a stark reminder to Americans that his decisions as president had as much to do with his results as they did with them. our interests, “CREW said. Added binder.

“Selling it now that you’re out of the office and the crack has dried up is, to say the least, too little, too late.”

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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