T-Mobile says it increased Trump hotel spending after Sprint merger announcement

T-Mobile in a letter to congressional Democrats said it had spent nearly $200,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., since announcing its $26 billion merger with Sprint.

This is the first time T-Mobile has acknowledged its spending, which it said totaled $195,000 since the announcement of the merger. It represents a significant spike in spending at the Trump property. 

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“While we understand that staying at Trump properties might be viewed positively by some and negatively by others, we are confident that the relevant agencies address the questions before them on the merits,” Anthony Russo, T-Mobile USA’s vice president of federal legislative affairs, wrote in the letter dated Feb. 21.

The letter was in response to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump rolls dice on uncertain economy | 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington | Watchdog group pushes 2020 candidates for 10 years of tax returns House Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Bannon says an O'Rourke-Harris ticket poses the greatest threat to Trump in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOn The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks House Dems reintroduce the Dream Act MORE (D-Wash.).

"The American people deserve better than an administration that appears to be for sale to businesses eager to line the President's pockets," Warren and Jayapal said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Before the merger was announced, only two T-Mobile officials had ever stayed at Trump's hotel, according to The Washington Post. Since April 29, T-Mobile executives have stayed at the hotel for at least 52 nights. 

Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns about the T-Mobile stays at the Trump hotel as the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission continue to review the multibillion-dollar merger. 

T-Mobile in the letter wrote that the nearly $200,000 paid for “meeting space, catering, business center services, audio/visual equipment rental [and] lodging" in the hotel, according to the Post.

Russo acknowledged that Trump hotel spending made up about 14 percent of T-Mobile's corporate budget on D.C. hotels since April. Half of that budget was spent at Hilton hotels, Russo wrote, the Post reported.

Warren and Jayapal in a letter to T-Mobile CEO John Legere last month questioned whether T-Mobile was attempting to "curry favor" with the president by having executives spend tens of thousands at his hotel.

They pointed out that nine of T-Mobile's top executives were scheduled to check in at the Trump hotel the day after the merger announcement.

"The decision to stay at the Trump Hotel appears to be unusual for several reasons," Warren and Jayapal wrote. "Your stay began one day after the merger announcement.  You had a particularly high profile during your stay, walking the lobby in an outfit described as 'a walking billboard for T-Mobile,' posing for Instagram pictures, and, during a later stay, meeting in the lobby with former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiCNN's Chris Cuomo knocks 'state TV' Fox News T-Mobile says it increased Trump hotel spending after Sprint merger announcement The 81 names targeted in Democrats' expansive Trump probe MORE."

Legere has said the hotel stays were not politically motivated.

Russo in the letter, sent to Warren and Jayapal on Feb. 21, wrote that the company is "confident" the hotel stays will not have an impact on the merger.

Trump's son Eric, who took over the family's real estate business when his father took office, previously told the Post that it was "no surprise" that T-Mobile would want to stay at the Trump hotel, saying the hotel has “absolutely no role in politics.”

The T-Mobile-Sprint merger would combine two of the nation’s four largest mobile carriers.

Updated 2:18 p.m.