The Trump International Hotel received about $270,000 from a lobbying campaign tied to the government of Saudi Arabia last year, according to a filing submitted to the Justice Department last week.
The filing from the MSLGroup, a public relations firm, shows that the group spent about $270,000 at the Trump International Hotel while conducting lobbying efforts on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government. MSLGroup was helping Saudi Arabia with several lobbying efforts, including opposing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which allows the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.
An executive with MSLGroup, Michael Petruzzello, told the Wall Street Journal that the payments to the Trump hotel were made by a subcontractor, which was reimbursed by Saudi Arabia. The payments were part of a campaign to bring veterans to Capitol Hill to lobby against JASTA, Petruzzello told the Wall Street Journal. He said that the payments were made between November 2016 and February 2017, and were made for the most part before Trump took office.
The Trump Organization told the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus that it would transfer profits from the payments linked to Saudi Arabia to the U.S. Treasury Department by the end of the year.
Update: Trump Org says it'll transfer profits from Saudi payments to Treasury at end of year. No answer on how it'll disclose that transfer. https://t.co/5q8aQdfyEX
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) June 6, 2017
A watchdog group filed a lawsuit against Trump in January, arguing that by owning the hotel, he is violating the Emolument’s Clause of the constitution, which prohibits government officials from accepting payments from foreign governments. And Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, has said that the Trump Organization has not been actively tracking payments from foreign governments.