'Trump hotel represents no conflict of interest'

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 25 (IANS) A US agency has ruled that Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., violates no statutes regarding conflicts of interest nor the terms of the government's lease of the historic building to the Trump Organization.

The decision of the General Services Administration (GSA), in charge of supervising the building, has angered several nearby establishments like the Cork Wine Bar, which had sued President Donald Trump and his hotel for unfair competition.

"The conclusions of the GSA are arbitrary and capricious," Mark Zaid, one of the attorneys of the Cork Wine Bar, told Efe news on Friday.

Zaid said the owners of the Cork Wine Bar will continue to press charges against Trump and his hotel because they consider it has violated the terms of the lease contract.

At the heart of the controversy are the terms under which Trump in 2013 signed a 60-year lease agreement with the federal government to establish his hotel in the Old Post Office, declared a National Historic Site and on whose restoration the President invested $200 million.

The lease contract says that no "elected official of the Government of the United States...shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease," which has led several organisations to complain about the current state of affairs.

Nonetheless, the GSA on Thursday that the possibility of a conflict of interest was resolved by Trump's decision to pass the management of his businesses to a colleague and his two sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

Despite having handed over control, President Trump remains the owner of the Trump Organisation, which includes the luxury hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, just a few blocks from the White House.