Newly acquired documents show officials at the Small Business Administration covering up the agency's event at Trump's D.C. hotel, which has become a corruption hub since his election.
Officials in the Small Business Administration (SBA) conspired to hide the fact that the agency held an event at Trump International hotel in Washington, highlighting the ongoing corruption created through his ownership role in the business.
American Oversight, a government watchdog group, secured internal communications through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
In text messages obtained by the group, staffers discussed their attempt to take a picture of SBA Administrator Linda McMahon as she spoke to a group of Louisiana business leaders, without letting on the location of the event.
One staffer asked, "Can you try to get the portrait mode one without the 'Trump hotel' sign in it?" Another replied, "I know. Trying to avoid it."
The first staffer, apparently amused, replied "Lols," and the second staffer indicated she would tweet the altered photo "and crop the opulence out."
The tweet from the SBA shows the result of the operation, where McMahon is pictured without the Trump logo, as if she were speaking in a neutral atmosphere.
Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement: "No matter how hard they try to hide it, it’s clear the administration is turning Washington into an extension of the Trump Organization, with cabinet secretaries playing the role of concierge to lobbyists seeking influence – all while they enrich themselves and the president’s family."
Events held at the hotel — less than a mile away from the White House — personally benefit Trump. He has refused to divest from his holdings or put them in a blind trust, so patrons know that choosing the D.C. location over other Washington hotels gives them a way to influence Trump.
The hotel, which opened last year, hiked up its rates after Trump took office. The logic appears to be that since the situation is already corrupt, why not try to squeeze even more funds out of it?
Trump also uses the hotel to host events for his re-election, transferring Republican donor money into his private accounts. Other Republicans have taken the signal from the top, and are holding their events at his D.C. hotel as well.
The hotel is a nexus for corruption in Trump's Washington, and an arm of the U.S. government is being used to cover it up from the American people.