Shortly after Donald Trump won the election for the U.S. presidency last month, Trump Organization officials reportedly contacted the ambassador of Kuwait and encouraged him to move an upcoming event to Trump’s new Washington D.C. hotel.
ThinkProgress reported late on Monday that employees of the president-elect's private business interests were ultimately successful in their campaign to pressure's Kuwait to move its National Day celebration to the Trump International Hotel from the Four Seasons, where the event has been held for years. According to an anonymous source with knowledge of the arrangements and documentary evidence reviewed by the news site, the decision to move the event to Trump's hotel was a result of "political pressure" from the Trump Organization:
In the early fall, the Kuwaiti Embassy signed a contract with the Four Seasons. But after the election, members of the Trump Organization contacted the Ambassador of Kuwait, Salem Al-Sabah, and encouraged him to move his event to Trump’s D.C. hotel, the source said.
Kuwait has now signed a contract with the Trump International Hotel, the source said, adding that a representative with the embassy described the decision as political. Invitations to the event are typically sent out in January.
This comes after the Trump International Hotel hosted some 100 foreign diplomats for a reception in mid-November, according to The Washington Post. The Embassy of Bahrain also staged a reception at Trump's hotel on Dec. 7.
Aside from the obvious conflict of interest concerns these arrangements raise, they may be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Trump's hotel inside D.C.’s historic Post Office Pavilion is owned by the federal government. A group of Democratic House lawmakers recently warned that Trump would breach his 60-year hotel lease with the federal government “the moment he takes office” unless he fully divests his interests in it.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is also leading a group in the upper chamber who plan to introduce a bill early next year invoking the emoluments clause of the Constitution to force Trump to “disclose and divest” any potential financial conflicts of interest.