GSA: Trump lease of hotel space is fine

The General Services Administration sent a letter to President Trump saying his lease of government property for a hotel is in compliance with the law. That result was a disappointment to Democrats. From the NY Times:

The Trump Organization scored a major victory on Thursday when the agency in charge of overseeing federal government property ruled that its Trump International Hotel in a historic government building on Pennsylvania Avenue did not violate the terms of its lease when Donald J. Trump became president.

“The tenant is in full compliance,” Kevin M. Terry, a contracting officer at the agency, the General Services Administration, wrote in a 166-page ruling.

The Trump organization released a statement saying, “We would like to thank the G.S.A. for their diligent review of this matter. We are immensely proud of this property and look forward to providing our guests with an unrivaled luxury experience for years to come.” Democrats Elijah Cummings and Peter DeFazio were unsatisfied with the decision. From Politico:

Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio and Elijah Cummings, ranking members of the House committees on Transportation and Infrastructure and Oversight and Government Reform, respectively, said the GSA letter “provides a completely inadequate explanation for its decision.”

“GSA changed the position it held before President Trump took office,” DeFazio and Cummings said in a statement. “This new interpretation renders this lease provision completely meaningless — any elected official can now defy the restriction by following this blueprint. … This decision allows profits to be reinvested back into the hotel so Donald Trump can reap the financial benefits when he leaves the White House. This is exactly what the lease provision was supposed to prevent.”

The GSA decision puts an end to months of media speculation that Trump was in violation of the lease. For example, back in November NPR published a story titled “Law Professor: Trump Can’t Hold Lease On His Hotel Near White House.” That story was based on the claims of Professor Steven Schooner who said GSA needed to cancel the lease before Trump was inaugurated.

There were literally dozens more stories like this suggesting Trump was violating the law or was about to do so. Back in December, Senator Elizabeth Warren was on the bandwagon with other Democrats who pushing the claim this was an “unmanageable conflicts of interest.” But the GSA letter to Trump notes “most of the review and reporting” on the lease reached “simplistic ‘black and white’ conclusions” about its interpretation. As for Professor Schooner, he told the NY Times, “We want the public to have confidence in the integrity of the government, and this smacks of cronyism.”

As Trump might say: Sad.