July 12, 2017

DeFazio Presses GSA Administrator Over Trump Conflicts of Interest, Failure to Respond to Oversight

DeFazio Presses GSA Administrator Over Trump Conflicts of Interest, Failure to Respond to Oversight

Committee Democrats release a report detailing major conflicts of interest; introduce Resolution to force GSA to respond to oversight request

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) repeatedly asked Acting Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) Timothy Horne to answer questions about the administration and management of the Old Post Office (OPO) lease agreement with the Trump Organization, including President Donald J. Trump.

At the hearing, DeFazio and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Hank Johnson (D-GA) released a comprehensive report detailing GSA’s complete failure to administer the OPO lease agreement in accordance with the terms of the lease.

The report provides in-depth background on the corporate structure of the Trump Old Post Office LLC, the apparent breach of the lease, GSA’s failure to properly administer the lease, and allegations of wrongdoing. The report highlights that President Trump continues to directly benefit from the Trump International Hotel, in violation of the lease agreement. He can use his profits from the Hotel to pay back loans for which he is personally liable, such as an existing Deutsche Bank loan with a balance of more than $50 million. He is also credited with these profits if the Trump Old Post Office LLC sells its interest in the Hotel. These conflicts are compounded by the fact that President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who are senior White House advisors, also financially benefit from the OPO building lease agreement for the Trump International Hotel.

The report makes the following recommendations:

Given the myriad constitutional, legal, and ethical issues raised by President Trump serving as both landlord and tenant of the OPO building, together with GSA’s repeated refusal to provide requested documents, we recommend that President Trump be divested of ownership of the Trump Old Post Office LLC. We also recommend that other Federal employees who directly benefit from the OPO building lease agreement, Ms. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Mr. Jared Kushner, be recused from any official actions involving GSA or the Old Post Office building.”

The Members also introduced a Resolution of Inquiry to force GSA to produce:

  • All guidance or direction to the Acting Administrator or other GSA staff regarding responses to requests for information from Members of Congress and Ranking Members of Committees;
  • All documents associated with the OPO lease agreement between the Government and the Trump Organization, including annual statements, budgets, mortgage agreements, and claims; and
  • All legal memoranda or opinions regarding the OPO lease agreement

A Resolution of Inquiry has privileged status in the House of Representatives. The Committee must report the Resolution to the House within 14 legislative days. If the Committee does not report the Resolution within this time period, Ranking Member DeFazio or Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnson will be able to discharge the Committee and demand a vote before the full House of Representatives.

To date, Democrats on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure have sent five letters to GSA requesting documents related to the OPO lease agreement. GSA has failed to provide most of the information requested.

To read DeFazio’s statement as prepared, click here.

To watch DeFazio’s statement as delivered, click here.

To watch DeFazio question Acting Administrator Horne, click here.

To read the Democratic report, click here.

To read the Resolution of Inquiry, click here.