Trump Organization reaches $375M deal to sell rights to DC hotel: report

The Trump Organization has reportedly reached an agreement to sell the rights to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for $375 million.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter, that CGI Merchant Group, an investment firm based in Miami, reached an agreement with the Trump Organization for a lease to the Trump hotel located on Pennsylvania Avenue.

CGI Merchant Group has also reportedly landed a deal with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. to rebrand and remove the Trump name from the property. Once the deal is finalized, the property will be managed by Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria group, sources told the Journal.

The parties involved are expected to tie up the sale early next year, according to the Journal.

The Trump Organization opened the hotel, which is located in the Old Post Office, in 2016. It is owned by the federal government, but with extensions taken into account, the lease would last for nearly 100 years, the Journal noted.

The Hill reached out to former President Trump and the Trump Organization for comment.

Reports of an agreement for the sale of the Trump family’s Washington, D.C., comes as the House Oversight and Reform Committee is looking into potential conflicts of interest related to Trump in addition to possible emoluments issues, the Journal noted.

The committee is also examining how the General Services Administration (GSA) managed the lease for the establishment. The agreement was made before Trump launched his bid for president, but the committee is still reportedly examining how Trump handled potential conflicts of interest while in the White House.

Democrats argue that the president concealed a large amount of debt during the GSA’s initial bidding process for the hotel and falsely cushioned his finances by excluding loan balances that he owed for his properties in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco.

They also argue that Deutsche Bank gave Trump special treatment by allowing him to put off some payments on the $170 million loan for the hotel.

Trump and his company, however, have held that they did not commit any wrongdoing.

Trump notably quipped during the September 2016 debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton that he would make it to Pennsylvania Avenue, win or lose, because of his incoming hotel.

“We’re just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next to the White House. So if I don’t get there one way, I’m going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another,” Trump said on the debate stage.

The property soon became a top gathering place for Republicans and Trump allies in Washington, with lawmakers, lobbyists, business people and even fans flocking to the lavish hotel.

The Trump Organization has asserted that it did not advertise its establishment to notable foreign individuals, and it has held that the company repaid the government for money it made off of official guests through checks to the Treasury Department, the Journal noted.

Documents obtained by the House committee and unveiled last month revealed that the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., lost more than $71 million between 2017 and 2020, when Trump was serving in the White House.

According to Trump’s financial disclosure forms from when he was serving as president, his eponymous hotel brought in roughly $150 million in revenue in his four years as president, the Journal noted.

The most recent disclosure, which included all of 2020 and the first weeks of 2021, showed that the revenue the property raked in fell from $40 million in 2019 to $15 million, the newspaper reported, but a number of hotels saw similar decreases in earnings amid the pandemic.

Noah Bookbinder, the president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, reacted to the news by saying Trump should have been forced to divest from the hotel before he entered the White House. 

He said Trump “rode out four years of using it for influence peddling and constitutional violations” in a statement to The Hill. 

“Selling it now that he’s out of office and the grift dried up is, to say the least, too little, too late,” Bookbinder added.

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