Shirtless, maskless runway show preceded Mar-a-Lago’s Covid closure

A week after packing the ballroom for a sexy runway show, Mar-a-Lago partially shuttered because of a Covid outbreak

On Friday, Mar-a-Lago partially due to a Covid outbreak reported Jill Colvin and Terry Spencer for The Associated Press.

Flashback to the scene last weekend at Mar-a-Lago at a fundraiser for a dog rescue group.


Biden-helmed GSA more likely to comply with lawmakers’ request for hotel docs, but separation of powers concerns could be a sticking point

Earlier this week, for the 11th time lawmakers with oversight of the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease of the Old Post Office building requested detailed information about the business’s finances from the General Services Administration.

With the leaseholder no longer in the White House, however, this time Sisyphus may just push that boulder up the hill. Maybe.

On Tuesday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Dina Titus (D-NV), chair of its subcommittee on public buildings, wrote to GSA Acting Administrator Katy Kale. The lawmakers renewed their previous requests for information about the hotel’s finances while also making some new ones. They asked for a reply by March 30.

A spokesperson for GSA said the agency was reviewing the letter and is “committed to collaboration with our partners on the Hill,” reported Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post.

Among the information lawmakers’ requested:

  • all monthly financial reports as well as whether or not GSA has reviewed them for accuracy

  • communication from the White House or other government agencies regarding the lease

  • memoranda concerning the legality of the lease after Trump’s election

  • whether GSA is considering barring the Trump Org from future federal government contracts in the wake of the insurrection

  • how GSA is enforcing President Joseph R. Biden’s Executive Order requiring mask-wearing in federally owned buildings

  • if the Trump Org requested Covid-19-related relief

  • if GSA is reconsidering its inspector general’s earlier suggestion to have its lease templates updated to include considerations of the Constitutions Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses

  • if there have been any amendments or changes to the lease since the 2020 election

“We expect the Biden Administration to be a lot more forthcoming in responding to this Committee’s legitimate oversight requests for records and information,” DeFazio and Titus wrote [bold added].

Such a response from Acting Administrator Katy Kale is likely of course, as it’d hard to be less responsive than disregarding a Congressional subpoena as did Trump’s GSA head Emily Murphy. A veteran of the Obama White House who served as chief of staff at GSA for the last 19 months of his administration, the GSA administration doesn’t owe her job to the hotel’s landlord for the first time in about four years

But a court filing last week in a different case shows that while fealty is no longer an issue, concerns about the separation of powers may be.

On Tuesday, the Biden Administration petitioned the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out an earlier decision that ruled Democrats on the House Oversight panel had standing to sue GSA seeking documents about, yes, the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease. In its filing, the administration argued that a rehearing was needed for the court to consider the earlier ruling’s “implications for the functioning of the Executive Branch, the effective conduct of legislative oversight, and the constitutional separation of powers.”

In their letter to Kale, DeFazio and Titus emphasized that the records they seek are “critical for the Committee to provide appropriate congressional oversight of GSA and this key federal asset.” The extent to which Kale meets their request likely depends on how the Biden Administration weighs that claim with the precedent that complying might set for the Executive Branch.


Email underscores a U.S. ambassador’s cozy relationship with Trump Hotel D.C.’s boss

A senior official in the Trump Administration displayed a chummy familiarity with a senior official at the Trump Hotel D.C. according to an email the State Department released to 1100 Pennsylvania this week.

In September 2018, then-U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft lunched at the Trump Hotel D.C. with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, as Richard Madan of CTV News reported at the time.

When it came to finalizing a time for the meal, Craft knew exactly whom to call.

Pls call Mikael [sic] at TRUMP to let him know,” Craft wrote an assistant, almost assuredly referring to the hotel’s managing director Mickael Damelincourt [bold added].

That Craft’s on a first-name basis with the managing director of her boss’s D.C. hotel—and that she’s coordinating her booking with him rather than the restaurant’s host—isn’t too surprising, given she’s such a good Trump Hotels customer that she enjoys the rare Trump Card gold status (as Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan reported for The Washington Post in February 2019).

The State Department provided Craft’s email to 1100 Pennsylvania earlier this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in September 2018. (Your correspondent is appealing the department’s failure to provide any accounting of taxpayer money it spent at the hotel for that lunch.)

Trump later promoted his loyal customer when he nominated Craft to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in May 2019.


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.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) held an event Friday night at Mar-a-Lago. And, as with many political fundraisers held at the former president’s house, enjoyed a visit from Trump.


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 hotel 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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