'Name of the president' influenced Trump Hotel D.C.'s prices around his 2017 inaugural, manager testifies

In deposition, Trump Hotel D.C. managing director acknowledged president-elect’s ownership factored into 2017 inaugural rates

The managing director of the Trump Hotel D.C. acknowledged that the president-elect’s ownership of the hotel was a factor when setting rates around the 2017 inauguration. The concession occurred during a deposition in the D.C. attorney general’s lawsuit that accuses the inaugural committee of overpaying the hotel.

In a deposition taken in November 2020, excerpts of which were made public on Thursday in a court filing, Mickael Damelincourt, the top executive at the Trump Hotel D.C., included “the name of the president” among the factors he used in determining the hotel’s fair market value in the dates around Donald J. Trump’s inauguration.

The remainder of Damelincourt’s explanation for how he set prices was not included in the selections of the deposition made public (the filing skips from page 201 to page 207).

Nine days before Trump’s inauguration, his attorney Sheri Dillon said the president-elect “instructed us to take all steps realistically possible to make it clear that he is not exploiting the office of the presidency for his personal benefit.”


Notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the former president, rely on his good graces for their livelihoods, or should have been providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

Former President Donald J. Trump; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA); Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R); former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R); former White House officials Larry Kudlow and Kellyanne Conway; former Trump cabinet members Ben Carson, Betsy Devos, and Mark Meadows; and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski attended the Conservative Partnership Institute’s fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday night. And Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro also was spotted at Trump’s resort cum house by The Daily Mail.

Reps. Byron Donalds (R-FL) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) spoke to the Save America Summit at Doral on Friday, reported Kyle Mazza of WUNF. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) also appears to have attended the confab. The summit is organized by the same group behind the Jan. 6 rally that led to the insurrection at the Capitol.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) keynoted the America First Summit’s $500 per person BBQ at Doral on Friday night. He’s currently under investigation for possible sex trafficking, as first reported by Michael S. Schmidt, Katie Benner, and Nicholas Fandos for The New York Times.

While Trump First Tuesdays, the D.C. hotel’s monthly happy hour for lobbyists, have been on hiatus during the pandemic, the organizer, a partner at lobbying firm Barnes & Thornburg John Willding is still paying the former president.

To “keep America awesome,” Turning Point USA’s chief content officer Benny Johnson wants you to like and share this photo of him at Mar-a-Lago with former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino.

Other sightings and expected appearances at Trump properties

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) held a lunchtime fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, while Sarah Huckabee Sanders will host her second meet-and-greet with donors at the former president’s house later this weekend, reported Josh Dawsey, Lori Rozsa, and David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also is hosting a fundraiser at Mar-a-Largo this weekend according to the article.

Shortly before announcing his candidacy in New York’s gubernatorial race, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, reported Brooke Singman for Fox News.

“Trump is slated to make an appearance at a fundraiser for the House Freedom Fund, the political arm of the House Freedom Caucus, to be held at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort on April 24. An invitation to the event lists Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) as featured attendees, among others,” reported Alex Isenstadt for Politico.

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago this week, reported Jonathan Mattise for The Associated Press.

Former Secretary of State and current Fox News analyst Mike Pompeo, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL), and Reps. Byron Donalds (R-FL) and Brian Mast (R-FL) are set to appear at the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s Lincoln Day Dinner at Mar-a-Lago on April 17, reported Eric Hananoki for Media Matters.


Other Trump Organization news


Reference section

Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.

Trackers

Notable customers

Summaries

  • Stay to play: Inside the sordid history of Trump’s D.C. hotel—And why the president’s prized property could be headed for a reckoning” by your correspondent for Mother Jones (September 2020)

  • Power tripping in the swamp: How Trump’s D.C. hotel swallowed Washington
    The MAGA social scene is a movable feast, but its dark heart resides within the Old Post Office Building, where the Trump Org operates under a mercenary charter” by your correspondent for Vanity Fair (October 2019)

  • Inside the world’s most controversial hotel: The hotel that was expected to take its place among the crown jewels of D.C.’s travel scene has become a magnet for protestors, a West Wing Annex, and—possibly—the center of a constitutional crisis.” by your correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler (May 2018)

Upcoming key dates

  • Sept. 23, 2019—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)

  • March 30, 2021—Deadline for GSA to provide information on the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee


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Matt Gaetz’s campaign’s error-prone history of reporting its Trump Hotel D.C. spending

More than half of Gaetz campaign’s disbursements at the Trump Hotel D.C. had to be revised or were originally omitted

“Federal investigators looking into Rep. Matt Gaetz’s [(R-FL)] relationships with young women have examined whether any federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and expenses for the women, a person briefed on the matter said,” reported Evan Perez, David Shortell, Paula Reid, and Pamela Brown for CNN on Thursday [bold added].

Gaetz has denied the recent allegations, and CNN reported his attorney had no comment regarding its report.

And while CNN’s article didn’t provide details about the specific travel expenditures being scrutinized, it did lead 1100 Pennsylvania to realize Gaetz’s campaign has had reporting problems when it comes to former President Donald J. Trump’s D.C. hotel: filings with the Federal Election Commission showed that five of the Gaetz campaign’s eight disbursements at the Trump Hotel D.C. had to be corrected or originally had been omitted altogether.

The forgotten $2,001 lodging expense

When Gaetz’s campaign originally filed its first quarter 2020 report with the FEC, it failed to include a $2,001 expense for lodging on Jan 9, 2020. Two days later, the campaign amended its report to include that disbursement.

Citing ‘clerical error,’ Gaetz campaign amended its FEC filings: charges that appeared to be below-market lodging were reclassified as meal expenses

From the Oct. 20, 2020 issue of 1100 Pennsylvania:

In its third-quarter 2020 filing made last week with the Federal Elections Commission, Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) campaign reported four disbursements to the Trump Hotel D.C. All were incurred for lodging on Aug. 27, 2020—the final day of the Republican National Convention, which was held in D.C. and they ranged from just $216.20 to $261.47 (totaling $976.87).

As of Aug 4., room rates at the Trump Hotel D.C. for Aug. 26 and 27 started at $556 and $636 respectively—more than double what Gaetz’s campaign was charged.

And by the week of the convention, the president’s hotel was sold out on those dates (with room rates on surrounding days starting at $626).

While room rates can fluctuate, they are influenced by a slew of variables, and it’s possible the Gaetz campaign made its reservations before the RNC shifted from Charlotte to D.C., $216 a night is among the lowest rates 1100 Pennsylvania has seen at the downtown D.C. five-star hotel.

Per the FEC’s regulations, when campaigns pay below the usual charge, they are required to report the difference as contributionsThe Gaetz campaign’s latest filing did not report any such largesse from the Trump Organization.

The day after 1100 Pennsylvania’s scoop, the Gaetz campaign again filed an amended report with the FEC. On the update, the charges’ descriptions were changed from lodging to meal expenses. A spokesperson for Gaetz’s office told 1100 Pennsylvania at the time that the edit was needed due to a “clerical error.

The dates of those disbursements also were revised on the ammended report. According to the spokesperson, they originally had reflected when the credit card payment was made and were changed to show the date the expenses were incurred.

The Gaetz campaign also has patronized Doral and Mar-a-Lago, classifying all disbursements as meal or lodging expenses. None of these expenditures had to be corrected or added to an already filed report though.

As for whether or not Gaetz still would be welcome at Trump properties if the recent allegations led to his resignation from Congress, well


Other notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the former president, rely on his good graces for their livelihoods, or should have been providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

Democrat turned Republican Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, former New York City police commissioner and Trump pardon recipient Bernard Kerik, former Missouri governor and current GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Eric Greitens, and one-time Sinclair and Trump campaign staffer Boris Epshteyn mugged for the camera (and possibly the club’s owner) at Trump Palm Beach.


Other Trump Organization news

  • “New York attorney general probes finances of key Trump aide” by David A. Fahrenthold and Shanya Jacobs for The Washington Post


Reference section

Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.

Trackers

Notable customers

Summaries

  • Stay to play: Inside the sordid history of Trump’s D.C. hotel—And why the president’s prized property could be headed for a reckoning” by your correspondent for Mother Jones (September 2020)

  • Power tripping in the swamp: How Trump’s D.C. hotel swallowed Washington
    The MAGA social scene is a movable feast, but its dark heart resides within the Old Post Office Building, where the Trump Org operates under a mercenary charter” by your correspondent for Vanity Fair (October 2019)

  • Inside the world’s most controversial hotel: The hotel that was expected to take its place among the crown jewels of D.C.’s travel scene has become a magnet for protestors, a West Wing Annex, and—possibly—the center of a constitutional crisis.” by your correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler (May 2018)

Upcoming key dates

  • Sept. 23, 2019—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)

  • March 30, 2021—Deadline for GSA to provide information on the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee


Thanks for reading! If you like what you’ve read, tell someone.

Share

If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, subscribe at 1100pennsylvania.com to support independent journalists dedicated to who’s paying the president.

Give a gift subscription

If you’re a paid subscriber and would like to post a comment—or if you would like to view comments from paid subscribers—click the comment button.

Leave a comment

Questions? Read our FAQ. Tips or feedback? Contact Zach Everson at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com (it’ll be encrypted if you also use a ProtonMail account, which is free) or via Signal (secure), SMS, or mobile at 202.804.2744.

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