The inspector general of the General Services Administration says the agency ignored constitutional guidelines by letting President Donald Trump keep the lease on the building used by the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The GSA's inspector general wrote in a report the agency ignored "issues under the Constitution's Emoluments Clause that might cause a breach of the lease," adding the agency "decided not to address those issues."
"We also found that the decision to exclude the emoluments issues from GSA's consideration of the lease was improper because GSA, like all government agencies, has an obligation to uphold and enforce the Constitution; and because the lease, itself, requires that consideration," the report said.
GSA General Counsel Jack St. John, in his agency's official response, notes decisions concerning the emoluments issue "occurred either during the previous Administration or prior to the confirmation of the current Administrator, when career federal employees occupied the most senior positions of the agency," the Washington Business Journal reported.
The GSA's decision not to address or consider the emoluments clause occurred in mid-December 2016, he wrote, the Business Journal reported.
The IG's report also did not find any constitutional violation occurred and its analysis only supports the proposition that an emoluments violation is possible.
Critics of the Trump administration have maintained use of the Old Post Office building to run the Trump International Hotel in Washington presents a conflict of interest for the president, as both foreign officials and organizations friendly to the president's agenda have patronized the business since Trump took office, The Hill noted.
Trump did not sell his businesses after getting elected, but instead placed the Trump Organization into a blind trust controlled by his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.
The hotel is the target of an ongoing lawsuit from the state of Maryland and D.C. in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, The Hill has reported. The suit alleges Trump is improperly profiting off of the presidency by accepting payments through the hotel. Arguments in the case are scheduled for March, the news outlet reported.
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