The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and its owner are under scrutiny by a federal judge. That’s because Trump’s ownership of it could be a violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause—state and foreign government payments to the hotel could amount to illegal gifts to Trump.
Now the hotel, and its owner, are getting attention for the millions in fines they paid out, right around the inauguration, for not paying contractors who renovated the property. In late January, the hotel paid out more than $3 million to settle liens against, and in “one case, a contractor reached an agreement after receiving a phone call from someone his attorney identified as ‘Trump.'”
The largest payment was made to Joseph J. Magnolia, Inc. The family-owned D.C.-based company had filed a lien for $2.98 million on Dec. 21, 2016, for “the unpaid balance for work done” on the hotel, dating from that day back through Sept. 9, 2014, according to court filings. Joseph J. Magnolia, Inc. had done “plumbing, mechanical, and HVAC work, along with the site sewer, water, storm, and water services” per the notice. It also provided the labor and materials required to complete that work.
The company had been featured in a Washington Post article about various liens against Trump’s hotel in D.C. that continues to garner a ton of social media notice. In a previous Post article, John D. Magnolia, the company’s president, noted that he had voted for Trump and felt the Trumps had been “decent people” to work with. But, he added, “Mr. Trump and Ivanka [Trump, who oversaw the hotel project] and so forth, they are I guess preoccupied by other matters now.”[…]
While Magnolia’s company received what appears to be an amicable settlement, another subcontractor for the Trump International Hotel in D.C. did not. A&D Construction sought $79,700 in unpaid bills for woodwork (including the hotel’s crown molding). Richard M. Sissman, an attorney for the family-owned subcontractor based in Sterling, Virginia, said he had conversations with representatives of the Trump Organization regarding the lien, but not Donald Trump himself. He ended up negotiating with the hotel’s general contractor and reached an agreement around Feb. 22. But it didn’t end particularly well for his client who, unlike Magnolia, had not publicly stated that he supported Trump.
“He didn’t walk away very happy, let me put it to you that way,” said Sissman. “But he needed the money.”
Another company forced to put liens on the hotel was Maryland-based AES Electrical. It was owed $2 million for unpaid work in the hotel, and received a settlement in March 2017. Their attorney declined to provide any details of that transaction. It’s relatively small beans compared to potential collusion with a foreign adversary to influence the election, but it is just further evidence of Trump’s corruption—the only reason he settled these liens was because there would be bad press in the first months of his presidency. Otherwise they’d be hanging out to dry like all the other contractors Trump has stiffed over the decades.
It’s also a reminder that, even without collusion with Russia, there’s the Trump International Hotel, which continues to contract with foreign government and which provides daily evidence for Trump’s impeachment.