White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday insisted that President Donald Trump supports small businesses when asked about the impact the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has had on local businesses.
A reporter brought up a lawsuit filed earlier this week against the hotel, but did not ask Spicer about the legal challenge directly. The reporter asked how Trump could support small businesses while his hotel was taking business away from other local venues.
“He understands the importance of small business,” Spicer replied. “That’s why we’re meeting with community banks this morning to talk about the lending that they need. Whether it small business, entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers, throughout the country, he understands the role of small business in our economy, and how many jobs they provide. And I think he’s been a champion of it.”
The press secretary also reiterated the administration’s well-worn argument that Trump does not have any conflicts of interest (the federal conflict of interest statute does not apply to the President).
“The President has made very clear in that December press conference at Trump Tower—he doesn’t have conflicts, and he’s done everything in accordance with the guidance he’s [sic] given and has gone well beyond what he ever needed to do,” Spicer said. “But, obviously, you know, you can’t—your name’s on certain things and that’s a very big difference, in terms of some of the properties he owns.”
A wine bar in Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit on Wednesday evening against Trump and his Trump International Hotel in the District, arguing that since the hotel is linked to a sitting President, it unfairly takes away customers from local businesses.