September 11, 2020
Since the start of President Trump’s term, American and foreign government officials have made more than one thousand visits to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., a property that the president continues to profit from. This milestone reflects the luxury hotel’s transformation into a hub for politicians and foreign interests seeking to influence the Trump administration—often by transferring wealth directly into President Trump’s pockets.
After taking office, Trump broke with the precedent followed by every other modern president by refusing to separate himself from his business assets. As a result, patronizing Trump Organization businesses, including his D.C. hotel, means people are paying the president directly, often just for an opportunity to influence his administration. Since the beginning of his presidency, CREW has tracked just how many officials have seized this opportunity.
President Trump and his administration are the worst offenders, regularly appearing at the hotel and turning it into a place for those seeking access to power. President Trump himself has visited his DC hotel 31 times; at least 270 other U.S. government officials from throughout the Trump administration have visited a total of 523 times. The most prolific Trump administration visitors to the hotel, after the president, have been former Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway, with 24 visits, Vice President Pence, with 22, and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, with 17. First Daughter and Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump, who owns a stake in the property, has visited ten times since the start of the administration.
The president’s allies in Congress have taken their cue from his administration and followed suit, turning the Trump DC hotel into a constant who’s-who of Republican policymakers. 135 members of Congress have made a total of 283 visits to the hotel. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the most prolific visitor, has made 14 appearances at the hotel, and the runners-up, Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Matt Gaetz, have made a dozen visits each.
Besides being an after-hours social nexus for Republican Members of Congress, the Trump Hotel is also a fundraising destination for them. Since the start of President Trump’s term, at least 45 political events have been held at the hotel, many of them featuring one or more Members of Congress. The National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have held two and three fundraising events, respectively, at the hotel. Protect The House, a joint fundraising committee affiliated with Rep. McCarthy and Vice President Mike Pence, held three fundraisers at the hotel during the 2018 midterm campaign cycle. President Trump profited from every single one of these events.
Officials from foreign governments have made 127 visits to the hotel, also often while attending events. The embassies of Kuwait and the Philippines have held multiple celebrations for their national independence days at the hotel, each attended by numerous diplomats and government representatives. The Philippine ambassador, at one of these events, called his embassy’s use of the hotel, “a statement that we have a good relationship with this president.”
In 2017 and 2019, the Turkey-U.S. Business Council, an organization closely linked to the government of Turkey, held its annual conference at the hotel, bringing in speakers from the highest rungs of Turkish government. Last year, one of these attendees, Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, went from the conference to a private Oval Office meeting with President Trump, Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
When Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, visited Washington in July 2019, he stayed at the hotel—a fact that later came up during House impeachment hearings that year.
State-level American government officials, including five governors and six attorneys general, have also been spotted at the hotel 53 times. The numbers given above are likely to be even higher than shown here, as CREW’s tracking draws largely from publicly available sources.
All of this came to a head last month during the Republican National Convention, large parts of which were held in Washington, D.C., down the street from the hotel. CREW’s tracking identified at least 20 visits from government officials during the four-day convention, including an appearance by the president himself—his 500th to one of his properties—ahead of his nomination speech. During the convention, the Trump DC hotel hosted a number of panels, receptions and parties for convention attendees, including a private bourbon tasting hosted by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and a policy discussion featuring Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Throughout the week, rooms at the hotel were sold out at jacked-up prices.
Although the Trump Organization reportedly explored selling the hotel last year, President Trump stated in a recent interview that he ultimately decided against doing so because the hotel “does well.” And it has: according to the president’s financial disclosures, the Trump International Hotel has generated more than $40 million of revenue annually for each of the last three years. The fact that it has been visited more than a thousand times by public officials calls into question whether this revenue has, in part, come from selling something more than pricey cocktails and hotel suites.