The House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to the National Archives on Monday requesting information about former President Donald Trump and the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC, which he has since sold. The committee found that at a time when several countries were conducting international policy relations with the U.S. those dignitaries were also sending money to the president’s pocket through his hotel.
Over the course of his presidency, politicians and foreign dignitaries stayed at the hotel, leading congressional officials to wonder if it was to curry favor with the president.
“After Donald Trump was elected President and refused experts’ guidance to resolve his unprecedented conflicts of interest, the Committee on Oversight and Reform repeatedly raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s self-dealing and profiting off the presidency,” the Oversight Committee chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), says in the letter.
The letter explains that after several court battles the committee has finally obtained Trump’s taxes from Mazars USA LLP that shed light on the Trump hotel throughout the presidency.
“While the documents obtained by the Committee to date only fully cover a period of months, these records provide a revealing window into extensive spending by foreign governments at former President Trump’s hotel during his term in office,” the letter explains.
The documents they obtained included hotel ledgers that show foreign governments like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Turkey, and the People’s Republic of China, “spent more money than previously known at the Trump Hotel and did so at sensitive times for those countries’ relations with the United States,” the letter to the Archives reveals.
It goes on to explain that the documents they’ve seen “reveal that, during the same time periods they were seeking to influence American foreign policy, these six nations and affiliated entities made payments totaling more than $750,000 to Mr. Trump’s hotel—renting rooms for up to $10,000 per night. Well-connected Republican lobbyists working on behalf of these countries, some operating illegally without registering as foreign agents, spent tens of thousands more at the Trump Hotel during the same periods.”
The visits begin on Sept. 12, 2017, when Trump welcomed then-Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak for a state visit at the White House.
“Records show that in the days before and after this visit, from September 7, 2017, to September 15, 2017, Prime Minister Razak and his entourage spent at least $259,724 at the Trump hotel,” says the letter. It goes on to talk about the corruption of the Razak administration, which embezzled $4.5 billion through a sovereign wealth fund. In June 2017, the Justice Department was trying to recover some of the $540 million in U.S. funds Malaysia got from the U.S., a release from the DOJ said.
The expenses at the Trump hotel include $9,229 for “Coffee Break[s],” $8,147 for “In Room Dining Lunch[es],” and $1,500 for a “personal trainer.”
The full delegation stayed at the hotel, revealing that Trump profited from them $97,193, compared to $56,635 for other nights in September 2017.
When the Saudis, Qatar, and U.A.E visited in the summer of 2017, government officials from the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia spent at least $164,929 at the Trump Hotel. Qatar-connected companies spent at least $307,941 at Trump’s hotel. At the time, the Saudis and U.A.E. were meeting with Jared Kushner about a blockade of Qatar, which is a U.S. ally and that has U.S. bases in its borders with 11,000 U.S. servicemembers. Despite the efforts of Trump and Kushner, the blockade imploded. It was ultimately revealed that Qatar paid Kushner’s company $1.2 billion for the 666 Fifth Avenue property.
“In November 2017, the U.A.E. Embassy spent $33,512 at the Trump Hotel, booking 53 hotel rooms at an average rate of over $750 per night,” said the committee. “From March 7 to March 14, 2018, the Saudi Ministry of Defense spent $85,961, including renting several $10,500-suites.”8 to March 16, 2018, the Embassy of the U.A.E. Military Delegation spent an additional
“From March 8 to March 16, 2018, the Embassy of the U.A.E. Military Delegation spent an additional $34,037,” the report continued.
Trump then met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at the White House to talk about the Qatar blockade.
“It’s a great honor to have the Crown Prince with us. Saudi Arabia has been a very great friend and a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things,” Trump said in his speech welcoming MBS. Two days later, Trump approved $1.3 billion in arms sales to the Saudis despite concerns Congress had over war crimes in Yemen.
The Saudis and UAE kept coming back as well, with another trip “between April and May 2018, various U.A.E. military officials, including the now-Commanders of its Land and Air Forces, Saeed Rashed Al Shehhi and Ibrahim Naser Al Alawi, spent $6,454 at the hotel. From May 30 to June 1, 2018, Awwad Eid Alardi Al-Balawi, a Saudi Admiral and Head of the Saudi Border Guards, spent $4,965 at the hotel.”
The letter hints that other “individuals reportedly acting as unregistered foreign agents for the U.A.E.” were also at the hotel. On October 6, 2017, Elliott Broidy, the vice chair of the Trump Victory Committee and then-vice chair of the Republican National Committee, “who won $200 million in contracts from the U.A.E., met with President Trump at the White House.” He urged Trump to fire then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. At the time, Tillerson was objecting to the blockade of Qatar. Broidy and another Trump fundraiser accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, Ahmad Khawaja, stayed through Dec. 2017 and Feb. 2018, spending a combination of $18,000 at the hotel.
Meanwhile, Trump’s U.A.E-linked properties also saw a jump in spending from foreign officials. “Management fees at Donald Trump’s golf course in Dubai jumped from $141,484, in 2017, to $314,579 in 2018—an increase of 122 percent,” said the letter.
At the time, the Washington Post reported that the U.A.E. was at work trying to find ways to manipulate U.S. foreign policy more for its benefit by exploiting “the vulnerabilities in American governance including its reliance on campaign contributions, susceptibility to powerful lobbying firms and lax enforcement of disclosure laws intended to guard against interference by foreign governments,” intelligence sources said.
Qatar ultimately spent $300,000 at the Trump Hotel in early April 2018, when Trump welcomed the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to the White House. Three months leading up to the meeting, the Qatari government and associated entities were already spending money at the hotel.
“Between January and early March 2018, the Sheikh Al Thani Family, the ruling family of Qatar, booked an extended stay at the Trump Hotel, spending at least $282,037,” the letter said.
Turkish government officials were also spending money at the Trump hotel in 2017. Trump Hotel records obtained by the Committee show the Turkish Embassy, lobbyists for the Turkish government, and a Turkish-linked group spent tens of thousands of dollars at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“During his term in office, President Trump took a number of actions that favored the Turkish government. For example, in 2017 President Trump remained silent when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bodyguards assaulted U.S. citizens during a visit to the United States. In 2018, President Trump publicly pushed his own DOJ to drop an investigation into money laundering by the Turkish state-owned financial institution Halkbank,” the committee explained.
Then there was the Halkbank scandal, where the Justice Department indicted three individuals funneling gold and cash to Iran despite sanctions. When Trump took over the White House, the Southern District of New York was investigating. “Turkey and Halkbank hired Ballard Partners—a lobbying firm run by Trump-donor Brian Ballard. Lobbying records show that Turkey paid Mr. Ballard’s lobbying firm $4.6 million over two years for work on Halkbank and other matters, including contacts with White House aides,” said the committee letter.
Trump Hotel records show that Ballard stayed at the Trump hotel for 37 days September 10, 2017, to April 26, 2018, spending $21,209.
Trump heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited in Nov. 2017. As a candidate in 2016, however, Trump was tough on China, saying that they orchestrated “the greatest theft in the history of the world” and were “raping” the United States with its trade policy, the committee recalled.
While in China, however, Trump told the press, “after all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.”
He said of Xi “My feeling toward you is an incredibly warm one.”
It turns out “on August 27, 2017, two months before Trump traveled to Asia, an Embassy of China Delegation spent $19,391 at the Trump hotel,” the committee said. Meanwhile, “Casino magnate Steve Wynn, who held significant business interests in China and was implicated by the Justice Department as acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China, stayed at the Trump Hotel twice in this period, spending $9,370.” It was three weeks before Trump left for the China trip.
Excerpts from Congressional letter
Meanwhile, the Trump Hotel Director of Marketing, Patricia Tang, was expensing trips to “Hotel in China” to the company for a June 2017. The same month that Trump was in China, Tang appeared to return. According to documents from the hotel, in November 2017— it listed “Patricia” was to get a reimbursement for “business cards printed by Mr. Eric Lee for Patricia while on China Trip in November 2017.”
It wasn’t only China, Ms. Tang was visiting, however. “In October 2017, Ms. Tang expensed $5,000 for a Russian Service Bureau hosted trip marked “Patricia Tang Russia Road Show Travel,” for which she later expensed an additional $1,300,” the documents show.
In Rep. Maloney’s request to the National Archives, she asks for all of the documents available relating to those specific countries and people named on the dates listed.
The House is headed for a lame duck session, but it appears they’re still focused on the documents they’ve received due to the Trump taxes lawsuit.
Read the full letter below: