Trump Organization to sell Washington DC hotel in $375m deal – reports

Hotel, which opened in 2016, lost $74m between that year and 2020 according to documents, and will likely be renamed

The Trump Organization has reportedly agreed on a $375m deal to sell its hotel near the White House in Washington DC.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the long-in-the-offing deal, with CGI Merchant Group, a real estate investment firm from Miami.

The New York Times said the buyer was exploring a renaming of the hotel, replacing the Trump brand with Waldorf-Astoria, under a deal with Hilton.

Any deal must be approved by the federal government, which leased the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue to Donald Trump in 2013.

The hotel opened for business in 2016, shortly before Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for the presidency, and swiftly became a magnet for controversy.

Trump allies and foreign governments seeking to do business with the Trump administration made the hotel a Washington power centre, leading to accusations of self-dealing and violations of the emoluments clause of the US constitution.

The Trump Organization explored a sale before the coronavirus pandemic, during which business suffered badly.

Problems deepened after Trump was beaten at the polls by Joe Biden, a defeat he attempted to overturn by stoking supporters to attack the Capitol, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

In March this year, Sally Quinn, an influential Washington author and journalist, told the Guardian she could not “imagine most people staying there when they come. I don’t know anybody who goes there or has gone there.

“I suspect that whoever does buy it will take down all the gilt and all of the trimmings and turn it into something very un-Trump-like.”

Documents released amid House investigations of Trump’s affairs have shown that the hotel lost $74m between 2016 and 2020.

Trump’s financial problems have been widely reported – in October he fell off the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest people in America for the first time in 25 years. He is also in widespread legal jeopardy, over his business dealings as well as his attempts to subvert the election.

Nonetheless, Trump remains the dominant power in the Republican party and seems likely to mount another White House run.

Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sued Trump for accepting payment from foreign governments via the hotel, said: “Donald Trump is now selling … the location of four years of self-enrichment, conflicts of interest and constitutional violations.”

“Selling it now that he’s out of office and the grift dried up is, to say the least, too little, too late.”

The Crew lawsuit was dismissed after Trump left office, and the matter deemed moot by the supreme court.


Martin Pengelly in New York

The GuardianTramp

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