The Trump International Hotel is drawing criticism after about 100 foreign diplomats toured the recently opened $212 million Washington, D.C. hotel, winning prizes that included stays at other Trump hotels.
That's raising eyebrows among those who think the hotels could spark conflicts of interest with President-elect Donald Trump, The Washington Post reports. Diplomats who spoke to the Post under the condition of anonymity said visiting the hotel was a way to show courtesy to Trump.
Why wouldn't I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House ... Isn't it rude to come to his city and say, 'I am staying at your competitor?'
Former Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan said some diplomats would "think it's the right way to engage," but he personally would discourage it to avoid the appearance of "[buying] influence via a hotel bill."
It would take congressional action to stop diplomats from staying at the hotel, which opened in September. The Library of Congress said in an analysis last month that there was "no current legal requirement" to compel Trump to ban diplomats from his hotel.
Trump has said he would let his children take over his businesses in a "blind trust." But critics, including Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) have cried foul.
history is potentially funneling us toward a moment when a Trump Hotel triggers a constitutional crisis— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) November 20, 2016
Some reporters feared serious consequences from the hotel.
Out: Foreign officials give $ to Clinton Fdtn for access to Clinton.— Sam Stein (@samstein) November 19, 2016
In: Foreign officials give $ to Trump Hotel for access to Trump.
Some drew parallels to the Clinton Foundation's donor scandals.
Richard Painter, formerly the chief ethics counsel to former President George W. Bush, said Trump was in position to violate the U.S. Constitution unless he sold the hotel or gifted it to his children, ThinkProgress reports.
This isn't the only accusation of conflicts of interest against Trump. The Philippines named a new envoy to the U.S. earlier this month: Jose E.B. Antonio, a Trump business partner, The New York Times reports. The nation's president, Rodrigo Duterte, has been extremely critical of the U.S., particularly President Obama, since his election.
Trump also held meetings with Indian business partners in Trump Tower last week, The Economic Times reports.