Democrats probing whether groups booked Trump hotel rooms to earn president's favor: report

Democrats probing whether groups booked Trump hotel rooms to earn president's favor: report
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House Democrats are reportedly investigating allegations that groups, including a foreign government, booked rooms at President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE’s hotels without intending to use them but instead to gain the president’s favor.

Politico reports that the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s probe, which is part of the chamber’s formal impeachment inquiry against the president, aims to see whether Trump violated the law by taking money from U.S. or foreign governments at his properties.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the panel received information that a trade association and a foreign government had each booked a large chunk of rooms at Trump hotels but only used a small portion of them, prompting the probe.

“Now we’re looking at raw bribery. That was the risk from Day One: foreign governments and others trying to seek favor because we know Trump pays attention to this … It’s an obvious attempt to curry favor with him,” Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyDemocrats to probe Trump's replacement of top Transportation Dept. watchdog The Postal Service collapse that isn't happening Postal Service to review package fee policy: report MORE (D-Va.), who sits on the panel, told Politico.

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“At minimum, this suggests there is a culture of corruption that the administration has created,” House Oversight member Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocrats lobby Biden on VP choice Ocasio-Cortez endorses progressive Democrat in Georgia congressional primary Progressives to buck party by voting against T coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-Calif.) told the newspaper. “There’s a sense that to curry favor you have to engage in pay to play. That’s exactly what the American people hate about Washington.”

It's unclear what groups or foreign entity may have been involved in the allegation, or what properties may be at the center of the congressional scrutiny.

Politico reported that Connelly confirmed that staff on the committee were investigating but he did not have details about the allegation.

The Oversight Committee, the White House and the Trump Organization did not respond to Politico's requests for comment. The Hill has also reached out to each for comment.

The Constitution bars a president from being able to profit from foreign governments as well as the U.S. government, other than through their salary, though Trump has denied any wrongdoing associated with his hotels.

After Vice President Pence became engulfed in controversy last month after staying at Trump’s Doonberg property in Ireland, Trump said: “I have a lot of hotels all over the place, and people use them because they’re the best.”

The news of the investigation comes after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Lies, damned lies and the truth about Joe Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead MORE (D-Calif.) last week directed six committees, including Oversight, to investigate Trump as part of the chamber’s impeachment inquiry.

House Democrats are still debating whether to focus their impeachment inquiry almost exclusively on Trump pressuring Ukraine’s president to try to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden COVID-19 makes Trump's work with black Americans that much harder MORE — or expanding the scope to include Trump, his administration and his businesses.