According to an anonymous source with knowledge of the arrangements and documentary evidence reviewed by the news site, the Kuwaiti embassy recently canceled a contract with the Four Seasons’ Washington, D.C. branch, which has hosted the National Day event for years. The source told Think Progress that embassy officials decided to move the event to Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel under pressure from Trump Organization staffers.
Abdulaziz Alqadfan, first secretary of the Embassy of Kuwait, would not “confirm or deny” to Think Progress that the National Day event had been moved to the Trump International Hotel. A spokeswoman for the hotel also declined to comment.
The Washington Post reported that the Trump International Hotel hosted some 100 foreign diplomats for a reception in mid-November. A few days later, Kuwait canceled its contract with the Four Seasons, according to ThinkProgress.
Kuwaiti Ambassador Salam al-Sabah told the Post on Tuesday that he felt no pressure to make the venue change and that he had only asked the Four Seasons to reserve that time rather than signed a formal contract.
“I do not know President-elect Trump. Or his people. No one has contacted me about moving the event,” Sabah told the newspaper. “It was solely done with the intention of providing our guests with a new venue. We have been holding the event at the Four Seasons for years. There is a new hotel in town, and we thought we would give it a try.”
Other organizations and officials have been unabashed in their efforts to curry favor with Trump through the hotel, which is housed in a building that the Trump Organization leases from the federal government. Foreign dignitaries openly admitted that they were booking rooms at the hotel in a friendly gesture to the President-elect; Azerbaijan and Bahrain announced receptions there; and the conservative Heritage Foundation reserved it for an event with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Ethics experts and the General Services Administration, which owns the building that houses the hotel, have told Trump he should revoke ownership of the hotel before inauguration day. The Trump Organization’s lease with the federal government explicitly states that no elected U.S. official may benefit from it.
This post has been updated to include comment from Kuwait's ambassador.