December 01, 2016

Senators Warren and Carper Question GSA on President-elect Trump’s Conflicts of Interest

Senators Seek Information on Lease of Old Post Office building in Washington, DC to Trump Organization Affiliates

Text of letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), Denise Turner Roth, seeking information on GSA's efforts to protect taxpayer dollars and address conflicts of interest in its business relationship with President-elect Donald Trump and his family. Specifically, the Senators requested information on GSA's terms of lease with affiliates of the Trump Organization to redevelop and manage the Old Post Office building in Washington, DC.

"In 2013, GSA negotiated a lease agreement with Trump Old Post Office, LLC-a private company owned by President-elect Trump and his adult children," the Senators wrote. "In a material term of the contract, GSA requires that no elected officials play a role in the agreement ... However, once President-elect Trump assumes office, he will oversee GSA and have the authority to appoint a new GSA Administrator, which will effectively make President-elect Trump landlord and tenant at the same time."

The Senators continue, stating that GSA's relationship with President-Elect Trump is also complicated by two provisions in the Constitution prohibiting the President from receiving additional ‘emoluments,' writing, "The lease agreement between GSA and President-elect Trump states that the ‘Landlord [to whom the Trump Old Post Office LLC, pays rent] shall mean the United States of America.' If the current lease agreement remains, President-elect Trump will receive compensation from the federal government separate from his annual salary, which is prohibited by the Constitution. Foreign governments are also reportedly paying for their official representatives to stay at Trump International Hotel because the property is affiliated with the incoming President-the Kingdom of Bahrain, for example, recently booked space at the Trump Hotel for a reception."

The Senators recommend that, "Accordingly, GSA should immediately take steps to identify and mitigate any potential conflicts of interest relating to its lease agreement with President-elect Trump, including removing itself from the agreement to avoid any violations of law." 

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.