The owners of Cork Wine Bar, a restaurant and bar in Washington, D.C., have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his Trump International Hotel in the District, arguing that because the hotel is connected to a sitting President unfairly pulls business from local restaurants and event spaces.
In the complaint, lawyers for Cork Wine Bar allege that Trump’s hotel has an “unfair advantage” prohibited in the hotel’s lease for the Old Post Office building, which has a provision stating no elected official may benefit from it.
The Trump Organization dismissed the lawsuit in a one line statement.
“The lawsuit is a publicity stunt completely lacking in merit,” Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, said in a statement.
In a press conference announcing the lawsuit on Thursday, the owners of the bar said that they have seen a downturn in business since the inauguration.
One of the owners, Diane Gross, told reporters that they are not challenging Trump’s policies, but are instead concerned that his link to the hotel is unfairly pulling business from other venues in the area.
Cork is not seeking damages through the legal challenge, but the lawsuit lays out three possible remedies: the hotel suspending operations for the rest of Trump’s presidency, Trump and his family fully divesting from interests in the hotel, or Trump stepping down as President.
In the lawsuit, Cork’s lawyers argue that an increase in business at the Trump hotel after the election was due to a “perception” among customers that “it would be to their advantage in their dealing with President Donald J. Trump and other agencies of the United States Government if they patronized the Hotel.” The lawsuit also gives several examples of Trump associates mentioning the hotel since the election, including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer touting the hotel at a press conference just before inauguration.
The lawyers for Cork also note that Trump is in violation of a provision in his lease from the federal government’s General Services Administration that prohibits an elected official from benefitting from the hotel.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about Trump’s support for small businesses in light of the lawsuit on Thursday afternoon. In response, Spicer said Trump is a “champion” of small business.
The Trump Organization did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.
Read the complaint:
This post has been updated.