GSA pushes back on Dems over Trump hotel

GSA pushes back on Dems over Trump hotel
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The General Services Administration (GSA) is pushing back against a letter published by House Democrats Wednesday that claimed the agency had concluded that President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE will be in violation of a lease agreement with the federal government when he is sworn into office.

The letter, sent to the agency on Wednesday and published online, claims that a GSA official told lawmakers in a briefing that the agency had assessed the lease and decided that Trump will break the lease “the moment he takes office on January 20, 2017," unless he divests his interests in a new Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

In their letter, the Democrats included a portion of a provision in the lease agreement that stipulates that no elected official “shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”

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The letter was sent by Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHistory in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Democrat grills DHS chief over viral image of drowned migrant and child Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (Va.) and André Carson (Ind.).

In a statement later Wednesday, a GSA spokesperson refuted the letter, saying the agency had not reached a conclusion about whether Trump would be violating the lease at the Old Post Office building, which houses his new hotel.

“GSA does not have a position that the lease provision requires the President-elect to divest of his financial interests,” the spokesperson said. “We can make no definitive statement at this time about what would constitute a breach of the agreement, and to do so now would be premature.”

The statement added that it would not reach a final determination about the lease agreement until Trump is inaugurated and has reached a decision about how to organize his business interests.

The GSA spokesman included the full section of the lease agreement, which continues, “provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed as extending to any Person who may be a shareholder or other beneficial owner of any publicly held corporation or other entity, if this Lease is for the general benefit of such corporation or other entity.”

Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller told reporters Wednesday that Trump will address the hotel issue in a January press conferences about his businesses. The press conference was originally scheduled for Thursday.