The government spent a ton of money to keep an attraction at Trump's hotel open while the rest of the government was shut down.
The General Services Administration (GSA) of the federal government, which is headed by a Trump appointee, arranged to spend $600,000 to keep open a historic site inside Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel for up to a year. Meanwhile, other parks and national monuments were shut down during the federal government shutdown.
E&E News uncovered documents from the National Park Service detailing the funding agreement between the service and GSA.
The clock tower of the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., is on the site of Trump International Hotel. GSA leases the property to a holding company owned by Trump. While much of the rest of the federal government was shut down as Trump demanded billions for his racist border wall, the clock tower stayed open.
As a result, while much of Washington's tourist attractions were closed, the facility directly connected to Trump had staff in place and was operational. It was a convenient and cozy deal.
Emails between the Park Service and GSA show an awareness of how unseemly it appeared that the structure connected to Trump was receiving unusual treatment.
"I don't want to get sucked into a question about the political implications," said Mike Litterst, chief of communications for the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
After the Associated Press quoted a ranger working at the site in early January while the shutdown was in place, Litterst noted in another email, "We've reminded the staff to be extra careful about what they say when talking to visitors."
Trump personally profits from traffic to the hotel and the attraction within it. He refused to put his holdings in a blind trust or sell them when he became president, so when somebody spends money at the hotel he profits. As a result, the hotel has become something of a corruption hub from people seeking to get influence with Trump.
The current head of GSA is Emily Murphy, a former staffer at the Republican National Committee and for former Rep. Jim Talent (R-MO). She was part of the Trump presidential transition and he nominated her to head GSA in 2017, after which she was confirmed by the Senate.
Trump's appointees helped to arrange a state of affairs benefitting Trump's hotel. The operations of Trump's hotel benefit Trump personally.
Keeping the tower open at taxpayer expense helped Trump's bottom line, and continued to refill the "swamp" with more Trump corruption.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.