Maloney, Connolly ask GSA to revoke Trump hotel lease – The Washington Post

Two congressional Democrats have asked the General Services Administration to consider terminating former president Donald Trump’s federal hotel lease following allegations that Trump provided false information to the agency during the bidding process — information that the company’s accounting firm recently said should not be considered reliable.
Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.) and Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), the top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, made the request in a letter Thursday to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. Trump’s bid for the GSA lease is also under increased scrutiny by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) as part of her civil inquiry into the former president’s company.
In recent court filings, James has alleged that Trump included inaccurate information in financial statements, including those he provided to the GSA in bidding for the hotel deal in downtown Washington a decade ago.
Another filing by James included a report from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, which said the financial statements it helped prepare for Trump could no longer be relied on and suggested that any recipient of the documents be alerted.
Trump has sued James over the inquiry, calling it politically motivated and saying it violates his constitutional rights.
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In their letter to the GSA, Maloney and Connolly say that the disclosures from Mazars warrant a closer look at the least. The lawmakers point specifically to a clause in the lease requiring that any information provided by the leaseholder to a bank “ … shall be true and correct in all material respects …”
That language, Maloney and Connolly wrote, provides the GSA an opportunity to address what they call “the grave damage this inappropriate lease has done to presidential ethics and integrity in government contracting.”
Trump’s company is preparing to sell the hotel lease shortly, in a deal that is expected to close this spring and is likely to net his company a profit of more than $100 million.
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a news release Tuesday, Trump pointed out that Mazars had not audited his financial statements anyhow, which the accountants sometimes disclosed in cover letters attached to the documents.
“My company has among the best real estate and other assets anywhere in the world, has significant amounts of cash, and has relatively very little debt, which is totally current,” Trump said in the release. A spokesman for Deutsche Bank, which lent Trump $170 million to develop the hotel, declined to comment.
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GSA spokeswoman Channing Grate issued a statement saying GSA “has taken, and will continue to take, steps to ensure that the tenant is in compliance with the terms and conditions of the lease.”
The agency has begun a review of the sale to make sure the buyer meets basic criteria of being able to finance the purchase and manage the property. Channing said “GSA is committed to ensuring a thorough and appropriate review process” of the sale.
If recent history is any guide, there is little reason to expect the agency will take action in response to the letter from Maloney and Connolly.
Democrats in Congress have been raising concerns about the hotel lease since Trump’s 2016 campaign. But the agency, under presidents Barack Obama, Trump and now Biden, has claimed that the Trump Organization is in compliance with the lease and has not taken any additional action.
James is pursuing testimony and documents from Trump himself in her case. In a hearing before New York State Supreme Judge Arthur Engoron Thursday, attorneys for Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, continued to resist the attorney general’s request that the three of them testify.
Trump’s attorneys argued that James shouldn’t be permitted to bring such a case against him because she disparaged him publicly while running for office, and that she has improperly used her civil inquiry to circumvent rules guiding a separate criminal investigation that she is conducting with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Alan Futerfas, representing Trump’s son and daughter, said by bringing a civil case, James was doing an “end around the grand jury” convened in the criminal case. Trump attorney Alina Habba raised comments James made about Trump on the campaign trail and argued that the case was politically motivated.
Kevin Wallace, from the attorney general’s office, argued that “what matters is the substance of the investigation, the substance of what we’ve found. And we’ve been very detailed in what we’ve found.”
Wallace said the idea that the office cannot pursue both a criminal case and criminal inquiry at the same time “is not accurate.”
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