It’s the obvious next front in staying in Donald Trump’s hotels to suck up to him: booking rooms in Donald Trump’s hotels and not even using them. House investigators say it appears that has happened at least twice, once involving a foreign government and once involving a trade group, and they’re looking into how many other times it may have happened—along with the stuff we already knew about, like Trump trying to get a G7 summit at his Florida Doral property and Mike Pence staying at his Irish hotel.
There is, though, a difference between saying “I have to stay somewhere, so I’ll butter Trump up by staying in his hotel” and saying “why not just book a bunch of rooms I don’t need to funnel money directly to Trump?” And it punches quite the hole in Trump’s “people stay in my hotels because they’re the best” line of defense if people (and by people I mean governments and business groups) are paying to not stay in his hotels.
“Now we’re looking at near raw bribery,” said Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, one of the members involved in investigating the issue. “That was the risk from day one—foreign governments and others trying to seek favor because we know Trump pays attention to this. … It’s an obvious attempt to curry favor with him.”
This is part of the House Oversight Committee’s continuing investigation of Trump’s violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and while it’s not formally a part of the impeachment inquiry at this point, Politico reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi might allow some issues beyond Ukraine to become part of it.