This may become the first case in the emoluments clause. Keep an eye on this. https://t.co/qux3PN63hO
— Marty Kady (@mkady) February 10, 2017
A lobbying firm working for Saudi Arabia paid for a room at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel after Inauguration Day, marking the first publicly known payment on behalf of a foreign government to a Trump property since he became president.
Qorvis MSLGroup, a communications firm that lobbies for the Saudis, has been organizing veterans and other activists to come to Washington to urge Congress to repeal the law letting 9/11 victims’ families sue the kingdom. Between 20 and 40 veterans, with the assistance of the advocacy group NMLB, stayed at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in December and January.
One of those veterans checked in on Jan. 23 and left on Jan. 26 at a rate of $250 to $325 a night plus tax, according to NMLB president Jason Johns. The bill was paid by Michael Gibson, a subcontractor to Qorvis representing the Saudis, according to disclosures filed with the Justice Department.
The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution prohibits U.S. officials from receiving payments from foreign governments. Lawyers started warning about the potential for violations at Trump’s Washington hotel and overseas properties after he won the election, but the clause didn’t start applying to Trump until he took office on Jan. 20…
“The problem with Donald Trump’s constitutionally forbidden foreign government cash and other benefits is not just that any one particular payment is problematic — it’s also a systemic problem,” said Norm Eisen, who was President Barack Obama’s ethics czar and is now part of a lawsuit accusing Trump of violation the Emoluments Clause. “It’s another tile in the mosaic of unconstitutional behavior.”…
Before the inauguration, Kuwait and Bahrain held events at the Trump hotel, and other foreign diplomats reportedly patronized it to curry favor with the incoming president.
Trump leases the building for the hotel from the General Services Administration, part of the executive branch. Democrats are pressuring the agency to evict Trump because a line in the contract prohibits it from benefiting an elected official. Trump’s lawyer and some contracting experts dispute that interpretation.
Shortly after his inauguration, Trump replaced the agency’s designated temporary chief with his own pick.