WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Dina Titus (D-NV) asked the General Services Administration (GSA) to fulfill the Committee’s previous requests for records regarding the Trump International Hotel lease. The Chairs also requested additional information and records from GSA related to the lease.
Shortly after the November 2016 election, then-Ranking Member DeFazio requested records from GSA to examine any conflicts of interest created by then-President-elect Trump’s lease with the U.S. government for the Trump International Hotel in the federally owned Old Post Office Building near the White House. Over the next several years, GSA repeatedly refused to provide the Committee with key financial records and legal memos related to the lease, obscuring details of the president’s business. The stonewalling resulted in multiple Committee hearings, and the Trump Administration ultimately refused to comply with a Committee subpoena. (Read more on the Committee’s efforts to conduct oversight of the Trump Hotel lease here.)
In today’s letter to GSA Acting Administrator Katy Kale, the members wrote, “Unfortunately, the Trump Administration repeatedly obstructed our efforts to carry out necessary oversight of a federally owned property that created obvious conflicts of interests. Despite President Trump leaving office, the Committee’s jurisdiction over GSA’s Public Buildings Service and the Trump Hotel Lease has not diminished and our efforts to conduct oversight in the interest of taxpayers will continue.”
Read the full letter here and below:
March 16, 2021
Ms. Katy Kale
U.S. General Services Administration
1800 F St, NW
Washington, DC 20405
Dear Ms. Kale:
As you are aware, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Committee) has been actively overseeing the General Services Administration’s (GSA) management of the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C. for over two decades. More recently, the Committee has been conducting oversight regarding the lease of the building for use as the Trump International Hotel (Trump Hotel Lease or Old Post Office Building lease agreement). Unfortunately, the Trump Administration repeatedly obstructed our efforts to carry out necessary oversight of a federally owned property that created obvious conflicts of interests. Despite President Trump leaving office, the Committee’s jurisdiction over GSA’s Public Buildings Service and the Trump Hotel Lease has not diminished and our efforts to conduct oversight in the interest of taxpayers will continue. We expect the Biden Administration to be a lot more forthcoming in responding to this Committee’s legitimate oversight requests for records and information.
As you will recall, Congress enacted the “Old Post Office Redevelopment Act of 2008” directing GSA to move forward with redeveloping the Old Post Office Building. The Committee has held several hearings on the lease, including a February 2011 hearing on site at the Old Post Office Building and two hearings during the last Congress.
On January 22, 2019, at the start of the 116th Congress, the Committee sent a letter to GSA requesting responses to a number of questions and documents related to the Old Post Office Building lease agreement. While GSA did provide roughly 10,000 pages of records, there are two outstanding categories of documents that have continued to be withheld: (1) financial records and (2) legal memos regarding the Trump Hotel Lease. GSA’s failure to provide these documents led to Chair DeFazio issuing a subpoena to then-GSA Administrator Emily Murphy on October 24, 2019. Despite the subpoena, GSA refused to provide the documents to the Committee. These records are critical for the Committee to provide appropriate congressional oversight of GSA and this key federal asset.
This letter serves to renew and reiterate some of the Committee’s previous requests for records regarding the Trump Hotel Lease and also to pose several new questions and record requests that we expect GSA to respond to quickly and comprehensively.
- Trump Hotel Lease related records. As requested previously, please provide the following:
Reputation of the Lessee: In the wake of the January 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol, instigated by former President Trump, numerous entities have either terminated their contracts and/or relationship with the Trump Organization. This has included the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America; Aon, an insurance brokerage firm headquartered in London; the local New York City government; Professional Bank, Signature Bank, BankUnited, and Frankfurt, Germany-based Deutsche Bank. Given the potential impact the termination of these relationships may have on the Trump Organization and the Trump Old Post Office, LLC, is GSA contemplating or considering examining whether former President Trump and/or the Trump Organization should be prevented from contracting with the federal government in the future? Trump Organization Valuation of Assets: There have been multiple allegations that the Trump Organization has a practice of deflating the value of assets for tax purposes and inflating the value of assets when applying for loans. Former President Trump borrowed $250 million from Deutsche Bank to finance the renovations for the Trump International Hotel. Section 37.15 of the Trump Hotel lease, “Tenant’s Representations,” states that “[a]ll statements, reports and other documents delivered by Tenant pursuant to this Lease … shall be true and accurate in all material respects and fairly present the condition or information required thereby.” As a result of these allegations, has GSA commenced any review of any documentation or statements provided by the Trump Organization to GSA to ensure their adequacy, accuracy, and truthfulness? If so, please identify when any review(s) commenced, when they were completed, as well as the title of any such review(s). Please also provide to the Committee a copy of each review that was conducted. Executive Order 13991: President Biden’s January 20, 2021, Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing requires the provision of guidance to federal agencies regarding air filtration in federal buildings and buildings which house federal employees and contractors. Properties outleased by GSA to private entities are still federally-owned property and as such, federal rules apply to these properties. How is GSA implementing President Biden’s order in leased, owned, and outleased federal properties? How is GSA ensuring that the mandate is being followed? How is GSA ensuring that the mandate is being followed at the Trump Hotel? If GSA has engaged in any correspondence with any of its outleased properties, including the Trump International Hotel, regarding their requirements to abide by federal laws and regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please provide copies of all of that correspondence to the Committee. Request for Relief: Did the Trump Old Post Office, LLC or the Trump Organization request or receive any financial relief from the federal government related to the COVID-19 pandemic? GSA Office of Inspector General Unimplemented Recommendation: In its January 16, 2019, “Evaluation of GSA’s Management and Administration of the Old Post Office Building Lease” report, the GSA OIG issued one recommendation: “that before continuing to use the language [in Section 37.19, Interested Parties provision of the lease], GSA determine the purpose of the Interested Parties provision, conduct a formal legal review by OGC that includes consideration of the Foreign and Presidential Emoluments Clauses, and revise the language to avoid ambiguity.” The Trump Administration disregarded this recommendation and instead sought to remove such lease provisions altogether. What actions, if any, has GSA taken since President Trump left office to reevaluate GSA’s position on the OIG recommendation and does GSA now have any intention of implementing the OIG recommendation? Recent Amendments to the Lease or Changes to Tenant’s Ownership Structure: Have any amendments to the Trump Hotel Lease been made since November 6, 2020? Has GSA been notified by the tenant of any changes to the tenant’s interests, ownership structure, or any other status for which the tenant must notify GSA under the lease? If the answer to either question is affirmative, please provide the Committee with copies of all records referring or related to such changes. Audits, Notices, and Amendments. Please also provide the following:
- All Legal Memoranda and/or opinions created by GSA or any other federal entity pursuant to GSA’s Old Post Office lease agreement.
- All monthly reports submitted by the tenant describing revenues, expenses, and budgets, pursuant to GSA’s Old Post Office lease agreement with the Trump International Hotel.
- Profit statements for the Trump International Hotel for the calendar years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and for January 2021 submitted to GSA under the Old Post Office lease agreement
- All memoranda or other communications provided by the White House, GSA, or any other federal agency referring or related to the Old Post Office lease agreement.
- All audits submitted by the tenant pursuant to the Old Post Office lease agreement;
- All formal notices pursuant to the Old Post Office lease agreement not already produced to the Committee:
- from GSA to the tenant
- from the tenant to GSA; and
- All amendments to the Old Post Office lease agreement not already produced to the Committee.
We request that you provide answers to the questions and records requested to the Committee by March 30, 2021. Please deliver one set of these records electronically to the Majority staff and one set of records electronically to the Minority Staff. To make arrangements for electronic delivery of the records, or if you have any questions regarding this request, please have your staff contact Lauren Dudley, Investigations & Oversight Counsel with the Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 225-4472.
PETER A. DeFAZIO
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
Enclosure: Instructions for Responding to T&I Committee Records Requests in the 117th Congress
cc: The Honorable Sam Graves, Ranking Member
The Honorable Daniel Webster, Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management
Old Post Office Redevelopment Act of 2008, P.L. 110–359 (2008).
Hearing titled, “Sitting on Our Assets: Cutting Spending and Private Redevelopment of Underperforming Buildings,” Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, 112th Congress, First Session, February 10, 2011, accessed here:
Hearing titled, “Landlord and Tenant: The Trump Administration’s Oversight of the Trump International Hotel Lease,” Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, 116th Congress, First Session, September 25, 2019, accessed here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-116hhrg41130/pdf/CHRG-116hhrg41130.pdf;
Hearing titled, “GSA Outleases and the Trump Old Post Office Hotel,” Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, 116th Congress, Second Session, January 28, 2020, accessed here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-116hhrg42245/pdf/CHRG-116hhrg42245.pdf.
Letter from Chair DeFazio and Subcommittee Chair Titus to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy (January 22, 2019), accessed here: https://transportation.house.gov/news/press-releases/chairman-defazio-rep-titus-press-gsa-on-the-repeated-refusal-to-respond-to-questions-surrounding-trumps-conflicts-of-interest.
See T&I Committee Press Release, “Chair DeFazio Issues Subpoena to GSA for Key Documents Related to Old Post Office Lease,” October 24, 2019, accessed here: https://transportation.house.gov/news/press-releases/chair-defazio-issues-subpoena-to-gsa-for-key-documents-related-to-old-post-office-lease.
See The New York Times, “These Businesses and Institutions Are Cutting Ties With Trump,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, accessed here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/us/politics/trump-politicians-donations-degrees.html;
Ben Popken and Stephanie Ruhle, “NYC axes all contracts with Trump as business backlash snowballs,” NBC News, January 13, 2021, accessed here: https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/nyc-axes-all-contracts-trump-business-backlash-snowballs-n1254103;
Jaclyn Diaz, “PGA Cancels Plans To Hold 2022 Championship At Trump's New Jersey Golf Course,” NPR, January 11, 2021, accessed here: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/11/955536518/pga-cancels-plans-to-hold-2022-championship-at-trumps-new-jersey-golf-course;
Courtney Bublé, “Trump’s D.C. Hotel Under Renewed Scrutiny,” Government Executive, January 14, 2021, accessed here: https://www.govexec.com/oversight/2021/01/trumps-dc-hotel-under-renewed-scrutiny/171418/.
John Santucci, Matthew Mosk and Pete Madden, “In blow to Trump, golf's PGA strips major championship from Trump-owned course,” ABC News, January 10, 2021, accessed here:
Katherine Chiglinsky, “Insurance giant Aon ended its link to Trump. It’s far from alone: Here are others who’ve cut financial ties,” Bloomberg News, January 14, 2021, accessed here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-trump-capitol-aon-companies-drop-20210114-ykvz7gy33vhqxmgxhkrkgwtr2m-story.html
Rob Wile, “Two Miami-area banks have severed ties with Trump,” Miami Herald, January 22, 2021, accessed here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article248690290.html
See: Paul Solman and Lee Koromvokis, “Trump leaves office facing mounting debt, devalued assets and scarcity of willing lenders,” PBS News Hour, January 22, 2021, accessed here: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/trump-leaves-office-facing-mounting-debt-devalued-assets-and-scarcity-of-willing-lenders
and Danny Hakim and William K. Rashbaum, “Did Trump Overvalue His Properties? Here’s What We Know About the Inquiry,” New York Times, (Originally Published) August 26, 2020, (Updated) January 13, 2021, accessed here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/26/nyregion/trump-letitia-james-investigation.html
Ground Leaser by & between the U.S. (as ‘‘Landlord’’) & Trump Old Post Office LLC (as‘‘Tenant’’), Lease No.: GS–LS–11–1307 (Aug. 5, 2013), available at https://www.gsa.gov/reference/freedom-of-information-act-foia/electronic-reading-room.
Executive Order 13991,”Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing,” January 20, 2021, accessed here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-protecting-the-federal-workforce-and-requiring-mask-wearing/.
'‘Evaluation of GSA’s Management and Administration of the Old Post Office Building Lease,’’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), General Services Administration (GSA), JE19–002, January 16, 2019, accessed here: https://www.gsaig.gov/content/evaluation-gsas-managementand-administration-old-post-office-building-lease.
Hearing titled, “GSA Outleases and the Trump Old Post Office Hotel,” Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, 116th Congress, Second Session, January 28, 2020, at p. 44-45, accessed here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-116hhrg42245/pdf/CHRG-116hhrg42245.pdf.