Federal watchdogs looking into Trump DC hotel lease
Two federal offices are looking into leases of federal properties to private businesses, including the Trump Organization’s lease of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.
President Trump in 2013 signed a 60-year lease for the government-owned Old Post Office Pavilion, then turned it into a private, luxury hotel.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is now looking into the General Services Administration’s (GSA) “outleasing” program, which allowed for the Trump contract. The GSA’s inspector general is also conducting a review.
The probes were first reported Wednesday by Bloomberg BNA.
Charles Young, the GAO’s managing director of public affairs, told The Hill in an email that the agency’s review was not focused on the Trump International Hotel lease specifically but would look “generally at the GSA outleasing program.”
“We expect that it will cover a wide range of issues and leases,” he said. “But the work is not focused on any one lease.”
According to Bloomberg BNA, that probe was launched in response to a June 6 letter from Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), which asked the GAO to look into how the GSA determines the terms of its outleases as well as how the agency ensures compliance with the leases.
In March, the GSA sent a letter to the Trump Organization, which has been helmed by the president’s two adult sons since January, assuring them the company is in compliance with its lease with the federal government.
The lease prevents elected federal officials from benefiting from the hotel lease. Trump stepped down from running his business when he became president.
Jennifer Ashley, a spokeswoman for the GAO, told Bloomberg BNA that the agency would be “looking at the GSA outleasing program writ large.”
“We are just getting started, so the detailed scope has yet to be determined,” she said.
Sarah Breen, a spokeswoman for the GSA Inspector General, confirmed the office’s review of the lease in an email to The Hill, saying that “the Office of Inspections has initiated an evaluation of GSA’s management and administration of the Old Post Office Building ground lease,” where the Trump hotel is located.
Trump International Hotel, which opened last fall just blocks from the White House, has been a source of ongoing controversy for Trump, who retains ownership of the hotel.
Updated at 6:15 p.m.
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