- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Trump International Hotel in Washington is making money despite being ranked among the world’s “lousiest” new hotels, which is more evidence President Trump is getting financial benefit from his office, congressional Democrats said in an updated lawsuit Tuesday.

Lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, say Mr. Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting money from foreign government operators, while also serving in the White House.

The Democrats first sued in June but updated their lawsuit this week to add more evidence to their claims, including new trademarks issued by China to the Trump Organization, which the Democrats said appeared to have been sped through China’s process.

“Many of the preliminary approvals granted since defendant became president were for trademarks that the Chinese government had previously rejected,” the Democrats said, citing news reports.

Mr. Trump declined to give up his ownership stake in the Trump Organization when he took office, but said he would leave day-to-day control of the company to two of his sons.

His lawyers said they had reviewed the arrangement and it surpassed the legal requirements.

Mr. Trump also said he would donate all hotel and resort profits from foreign governments to the U.S treasury. Congressional Democrats have said compliance with that promise so far seems lacking.

While any Trump properties are potentially covered, most of the attention has gone to the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., which sits on Pennsylvania Avenue in between the White House and the Capitol.

During the first four months of 2017 the Trump Organization made a profit of nearly $2 million from the hotel, beating its own projections that it would lose money, the Democrats said. “These profits accumulated despite an occupancy rate well below standard for the industry, and despite the hotel’s ranking by a ‘travel group that specializes in high-end accommodations’ as ‘the world’s third-lousiest new hotel,’” the Democrats said.

“These various benefits from foreign governments — payments, loans, permits, exemptions, policy changes and intellectual property rights — constitute prohibited “Emolument[s]” and/or “present[s]” under the Foreign Emoluments Clause,” the Democrats said in the updated complaint.

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