Former President Donald Trump “received undisclosed preferential treatment” on a $170 million loan from the German financial institution Deutsche Bank on his Washington, DC, hotel that he “personally guaranteed,” the House Oversight Committee said on Friday.
The committee’s findings are based on documents obtained from the General Services Administration (GSA), a sprawling agency that helps keep the federal government running.
The documents show Deutsche Bank in 2018 provided Trump a “significant financial benefit” by permitting him to delay making principal payments on the loan for a six-year period, the committee said in a statement.
“Without this deferral, the hotel may have needed to pay tens of millions of additional dollars to Deutsche Bank at a time when it was already facing steep losses. Mr. Trump did not publicly disclose this significant benefit from a foreign bank while he was President,” the committee said.
The statement also said that while Trump was president the Trump International Hotel received more than $3.7 million from foreign governments between 2017 to 2020, which raises “concerns about possible violations of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause.”
Trump in financial disclosures reported over $150 million in income from the hotel.
But the hotel lost over $70 million between 2016 to 2020, the committee said, “leading the former President’s holding company to inject at least $24 million to aid the struggling hotel.”
The committee said that Trump “grossly exaggerated” the financial status of the hotel with “misleading” disclosures, and seemingly hid “potential conflicts of interest stemming not just from his ownership of this failing business but also from his roles as the hotel’s lender and the guarantor of its third-party loans.”
The Trump hotel in the nation’s capital is located in the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion, and the GSA manages the lease. The House Oversight Committee said the GSA failed to comply with its investigation into the hotel during the Trump era, but “finally” produced a “subset of requested documents” in July.
Committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and subcommittee on government operations chairman Gerald Connolly sent a letter to the GSA requesting additional information.
“The documents provided by GSA raise new and troubling questions about former President Trump’s lease with GSA and the agency’s ability to manage the former President’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant,” the letter stated.
Collectively, the documents show “that far from being a successful investment, the Trump Hotel was a failing business saddled by debt that required bailouts from President Trump’s other businesses,” the letter went on to say.
Daniel Hunter, a spokesperson for Deutsche Bank, in a statement to Insider said, “The Committee’s letter makes several inaccurate statements regarding Deutsche Bank and its loan agreement.”
In response, a House Oversight spokesperson told Insider, “The Committee’s letter merely highlighted what was written in audited financial statements that the Trump Organization provided to the federal government and certified as ‘correct, accurate and complete.'”
“For example, on December 28, 2016, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg submitted a copy of the Trump Hotel’s audited financial statements certifying them to be correct,” the spokesperson added. “The statement indicated that no principal payments were required ‘until August 12, 2018.’ The certified 2017 financial statement included the same information. The 2018 financial statement, however, stated that principal payments were not due ‘until maturity,’ which will be in 2024.”
The spokesperson went on to say that if Trump believes “these financial statements are inaccurate, the Trump Organization has a duty to correct the certified statements it previously submitted” to the GSA.
Representatives for Trump and the GSA did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Trump’s refusal to divest himself from his business empire while president raised myriad conflict of interest concerns. The former president broke from his predecessors by not placing his assets in a blind trust, and scoffed at calls to distance himself from his businesses.
In 2019, Trump called the emoluments clause “phony” as legal experts accused him of violating it.
The foreign emoluments clause is enshrined in Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the US Constitution. The provision prohibits public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign governments without congressional approval.
It states: “No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
A New York Times review of Trump’s tax returns released last year showed he earned $73 million in revenue from the Trump Organization’s interests in foreign countries across the first half of his single-term presidency alone.
Additionally, there’s a domestic emoluments clause that bars the president from receiving money from the US government other than an annual salary.
It states: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
In September 2020, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s properties raked in $1.1 million in tax dollars from the Secret Service since he entered the White House.