Lobbyists for the Saudi government spent more than $270,000 at President Trump’s luxury hotel in D.C. in the first three months after he was elected, according to a report.
The money was used to pay for approximately 500 nights at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for six intakes of a program offered to U.S. military veterans to visit the nation’s capital in exchange for talking to lawmakers about a law to which the Saudi regime was opposed, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Participants previously stayed in Northern Virginia before the organizers, a veterans advocacy group contracted by Qorvis MSLGROUP, switched to the Trump-associated hotel in December 2016.
One political operative behind the bookings, which have prompted multiple legal actions, told the Post Wednesday the hotel was chosen because the group was given a discounted rate rather then to ingratiate themselves to the president. At the time, the average rate at the Trump hotel was about $768, but disclosure documents filed with the Justice Department indicate the rooms were charged at approximately $360 per person per night.
The law the Saudi government was lobbying against was the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which allows families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the kingdom in relation to the attacks as a majority of terrorists were Saudi nationals.
The transactions form part of a lawsuit launched by the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia, which alleges Trump has unconstitutionally profited from his political position. On Tuesday, a number of subpoenas were issued to obtain records for the legal discovery process, marking the first time a suit asserting a president was in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clauses has advanced to the discovery stage.
They will also likely be examined in the next Congress by the presumptive incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Schiff told the Post Wednesday his panel already wants to investigate the financial relationship between Trump and the Saudi government after the death of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.