Philippine government to hold Independence Day event at Trump Hotel

Philippine government to hold Independence Day event at Trump Hotel

The government of the Philippines, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, will hold its Independence Day celebration at Trump International Hotel in Washington.

The event, which will be held on June 12, comes at time when the Trump administration is considering whether to pursue a new trade deal with the Philippines. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE has expressed admiration for Duterte, who has been waging a ruthless war against drugs by encouraging extrajudicial killings of drug users and dealers. The policies have resulted in thousands of deaths.

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"I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I wanted to tell you that," Trump told Duterte in a telephone conversation last year obtained by The Intercept.  

“Anytime if you are in D.C. or anywhere, come see me in the Oval Office," he said. 

Trump visited the Philippines in November, during his first trip through Asia as president. He said he "really enjoyed" his visit and has a "great relationship" with Duterte.

The Philippines is just the latest foreign government to host an event at the Trump hotel, located only a few blocks from the White House. The hotel has been the subject of lawsuits, with groups contending that Trump's ownership stake places him in violation of a clause in the Constitution that forbids the president from taking gifts from foreign governments.

The Philippines has shelled out big bucks for the Independence Day celebration over the years, according to ManillaMail, a Filipino news outlet in Washington that first reported on the event. The country has also held its event at the Four Seasons, the Hay-Adams and the Mandarin Oriental, all elite Washington hotels. 

The Philippine Embassy in Washington is the official host of this year’s event, according to an invitation obtained by the Daily Beast, “to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence.”

Other governments, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have also held events at the D.C. hotel. The Trump Organization has vowed to donate all profits received from foreign governments to the Treasury, and in February cut a check worth more than $151,000 for profits it said it obtained in 2017 from foreign government sources.

Following that contribution Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpDemocrats seek to ban federal spending at Trump businesses The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race Trump Jr. rips Teen Vogue for sex work op-ed: 'Nothing is sacred to these sickos' MORE, who began co-leading the Trump Organization following President Trump’s election, said that the company doesn’t benefit from foreign spending. 

“Knowing that all profits from foreign patronage at our hotels and clubs will be donated to the Treasury, we gain nothing as a business from them,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

“Foreign government business is not business we want nor business we seek,” he added. “In fact, to be blunt, we choose to avoid it wherever possible.”

President Trump’s assets in the Trump Organization have been placed into a trust that he can access at any time. The president remains in touch with his business dealings, according to emails from a Trump Hotel executive obtained by the Daily Beast.

“DJT is supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he's definitely still involved,” reads an email from Jeng Chi Hung, the director of revenue management for the Trump International Hotel in D.C. “I had a brief meeting with him a few weeks ago, and he was asking about banquet revenues and demographics. And, he asked if his presidency hurt the businesses. So, he seems self aware about things, at least more than he lets on.” 

“I am far left leaning politically, so working here has been somewhat of a challenge for me. But, it's all business,” Hung continued.