A historic site at the Trump hotel mysteriously stays open while parks and national monuments elsewhere are shut down and federal workers go without pay.
As the shutdown drags into its 17th day, with no end in sight, many Washington D.C. museums and monuments are closed, and federal workers are cutting back because they don't know when they'll get paid next. But the clock tower at the Trump International Hotel D.C. remains fully staffed and open.
National Park Service rangers are there to greet people, declaring "We're open!" to the rare tourist that wants to see the clock tower instead of all the other things in D.C. that are currently closed, like the Smithsonian.
The Trump International Hotel D.C. is on the site of the Old Post Office and Clock Tower, which was already on the National Registry of Historic Places. The General Services Administration (GSA), which is of course part of the government, leases the property to a holding company owned by Trump, who is of course part of the government.
The GSA says this isn't because the clock tower is housed in Trump's hotel, but because there is some law — which the GSA won't specify — that requires the site to be kept open, even in a shutdown. Of course, this is the same GSA that said it is just fine that Trump profit from the hotel as long as he does so through an affiliated company rather than directly. It's also the same GSA that, just a few months ago, gave the Trump Organization a $534,000 break on the hotel's yearly rent because the hotel is providing security and janitorial services for the clock tower.
Since its opening in 2016, the hotel has always been a corruption magnet. Although in 2017 its occupancy rate was lower than that of the surrounding area, Trump somehow earned $40 million from it that year. And that isn't honest profit. It's all thanks to things like corrupt premium charges and taxpayer money being spent there.
Meanwhile, thousands of tenants covered by a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program could be evicted soon because the program was allowed to expire on January 1. And Airline pilots are terrified because there are now too few safety inspectors and aircraft manufacture oversight is now reduced.
Trump alternately says he doesn't care about government workers going without pay because they are Democrats, or that furloughed workers want the wall and support his shutdown. He has also said that his shutdown serves a "higher purpose" then federal workers getting paid.
No matter the mechanism by which the clock tower is remaining open, federal employees are working without pay, and other D.C. businesses are suffering, but Trump is continuing to make money in a less-than-savory way.
Just like he always does.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.