It now seems pretty clear that there’s a big problem with the lease Donald Trump holds on his new hotel in DC. It says clearly that no federal elected official can participate in or benefit from the lease. On January 20th, Trump becomes that person. I’ve been waiting for more lawyers to pop up to say that the contract doesn’t actually say what it appears to say. But everyone seems to agree that it does. There was just a segment on CNN discussing this. And they note that the landlord is the GSA (General Services Administration) – the agency that owns the government’s buildings and a lot of its stuff. The GSA administrator serves at the pleasure of the president and is appointed without Senate approval. So Trump’s landlord will be appointed by Trump and can be fired at any time by Trump.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that GSA will not enforce this part of the contract.
So what happens?
I would think the most probable strategy would be for Trump to give the Trump Organization to his kids. But there’s massive gift tax liabilities for doing that. Trump could also renegotiate the lease and get rid of that clause.
But whether the GSA refuses to enforce the contract or renegotiates the contract to benefit Trump, it seems to me that there must be some foothold for someone to sue. I confess this might end up with a White House counsel memorandum on the unitary landlord signed off on by a Trump-packed Supreme Court. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The question is who would or could have standing and what the basis of their standing would be. Lawyer types! Ideas? How might this work?