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 TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview 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 ConnollyPerry won't comply with subpoena in impeachment inquiry Trump confirms Rick Perry to step down as Energy secretary Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule 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) KhannaCongress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Is Congress too afraid to fight Big Pharma? Democrats probing whether groups booked Trump hotel rooms to earn president's favor: report 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 PelosiPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash Scrap House defense authorization provision benefitting Russia 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 BidenCNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment MORE — or expanding the scope to include Trump, his administration and his businesses.