Congress investigating 'near raw bribery' by foreign entities at Trump hotels

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The House is looking at unusual dealings between foreign entities and Trump's hotels.

Foreign entities booked rooms at Trump hotels but never used them even as money changed hands, according to a new report.

Politico said on Wednesday that these suspicious transactions are now being investigated by Congress.

"The investigation began after the committee received information that two entities — a trade association and a foreign government — booked a large quantity of rooms but only used a fraction of them," Politico reported.

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"Now we're looking at near raw bribery," said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a member of the House Oversight Committee.

Connolly said "Trump pays attention" to who books rooms at his hotels and that the bookings are "an obvious attempt to curry favor with him."

Unlike previous presidents, Trump has not divested from his businesses while inhabiting the presidency, nor has he put his investments into a blind trust.

The result of his financial arrangement is that business done at his hotels personally benefits him while he is in office.

"There's a sense that to curry favor you have to engage in pay to play," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), told Politico.

The transactions also run afoul of the Constitution's emolument clause, which prohibits a president from profiting from foreign governments. Trump is the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging violations of the law on those grounds.

Trump's hotel in Washington, D.C., has become a mecca for groups seeking to influence Trump. The property, which is under a mile from the White House, is regularly booked by business groups, foreign governments, and the Republican Party and its affiliated PACs.

Despite the hotel not being as popular or lucrative as other Washington hotels, the Trump connection has provided a consistent pipeline of funds to the Trump family.

After Trump won in the 2016 election, lobbyists representing the government of Saudi Arabia reserved 500 nights at Trump's hotel in three months.

Two years later, when journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by the Saudi government, Trump's criticism of the government was muted — at best — and reports surfaced that his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, made contacts with the government to assist in damage control.

In the majority, Republicans largely ignored growing concerns about Trump, his properties, and corruption. Now, under Democratic leadership, the full extent of Trump's practices are finally being investigated.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.