The Old Post Office Tower is in a unique position as a government operated site within the President Trump’s eponymous DC hotel. It is also in a unique position in that it is reopening during the government shutdown this week, which raises serious questions about conflicts of interest.
On December 22, 2018, Congress failed to fund agencies whose appropriations were set to expire, including the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service. As a result of loss of funding, access to the tower was closed by the Park Service.
The General Services Administration, which leases the Old Post Office Building to the Trump Organization, announced on January 2, 2019, that it would fund reopening of the tower during the shutdown. A GSA spokesperson described the funds for the soon-to-be reopened tower as “not associated with the current fiscal year’s (FY 2019) appropriations bill.” However, the GSA lease for the building places responsibility to maintain public access to the tower with Trump Hotels and expressly designates the Clock Tower Space “as part of the Premises . . . for which Tenant is responsible.”
Prompted by the discrepancy in these explanations, CREW requested all documents explaining the reopening of the Old Post Office Tower, funding for its operation, and communications between the GSA and the Trump Organization, the White House and the National Park service about the decision to reopen the Tower.
The requested records will shed light on the true source of funding to reopen the facility, and the extent to which GSA’s decision to fund the tower’s reopening was directed by either President Trump or the Trump Organization. This decision conceivably advances the President’s personal economic interests at a time when over 800,000 of the federal workforce are not getting paid.