(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

T-Mobile takes heat for lobbying scheme centered at Trump hotel

T-Mobile executives have been staying at a Trump hotel while they await his approval of a key corporate merger


Matthew Rozsa
January 16, 2019 8:55PM (UTC)

A new report reveals that executives from T-Mobile have been staying at one of President Donald Trump's hotels even as the president has the power to help them with a lucrative business deal.

T-Mobile executives have stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC on at least 38 nights in 2018, according to The Washington Post. Because the Post's data is incomplete, the actual number could be much higher, but one thing is clear: In the months since T-Mobile announced a $26 billion merger with Sprint, a deal that requires the Trump administration's final approval, a number of top executives at the company have been staying at his hotel.

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This trend began on the day after the deal was announced, when nine of T-Mobile's most powerful executives made reservations to stay at his hotel. They included chief executive John Legere, the chief financial officer, the chief operating officer, the chief strategy officer and the chief technology officer.

The Post illustrated the extent of the problem when it described an encounter between one of its reporters and Legere earlier this month:

Last week, a Post reporter spotted Legere in the Trump hotel’s lobby. In an impromptu interview, the T-Mobile chief executive said he was not seeking special treatment. He chose the Trump hotel, he said, for its fine service and good security.

“It’s become a place I feel very comfortable,” Legere said. He also praised the hotel’s location, next to one of the departments that must approve the company’s merger.

“At the moment I am in town for some meetings at the Department of Justice,” Legere said. “And it’s very convenient for that.”

Because Trump hasn't divested himself from his business empire, there has been ongoing concern about the conflict of interest posed by powerful political and business groups using his hotel while he is in office. Trump's super PAC, America First Action, Inc., spent thousands of dollars at Trump's hotel in 2017. Vice President-elect Mike Pence delivered a keynote address hosted by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, shortly before Trump was elected president. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch also delivered a keynote address at Trump's hotel, this one for a meeting of the Fund for American Studies. Unsubstantiated reports emerged that the Embassy of Kuwait had moved its annual National Day celebration from the Four Seasons in Georgetown to the Trump International Hotel due to outside pressure from individuals associated with Trump (Kuwait's ambassador denied this while conceding that he "may have" spoken to someone from the Trump Organization).

"Congress must be vigilant against the potential for President Trump to enrich himself and his family at the expense of the average American," Sen. Martin Heinrich, D- N.M., said in a report that he published in 2017 through the Joint Economic Committee detailing how the president's numerous conflicts of interest threaten the economy. "The president and his family’s conflicts of interests are inexcusable and unacceptable, and could depress economic output by over $1,000 per person just in one year. Not only are these practices dangerous, but harmful to the economic security of American families across the country."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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