Jefferson Morley | December 13, 2018
Trump Hotel: Home of Influence Operations
When Global Witness, the anti-corruption advocacy group, projected a series of messages on the facade of Trump Hotel four blocks from the White House on Wednesday, the advocacy group exposed a key element of U.S. foreign policy in the Trump’ presidency: it’s for sale behind closed doors.
Is the President’s defense of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman related to the fact, reported by the Washington Post, that a visit from Saudi officials to Trump International Hotel in New York City helped boost the hotel’s quarterly revenue by 13% in 2018’s first quarter?
Or that Saudi-funded lobbyists booked 500 rooms at the Trump International in Washington in January 2017 as part of a deceptive lobbying campaign to defeat legislation opposed by the Saudis?
The answer is yes. Trump has admitted that Saudi money can buy his good will.
“I get along great with all of them; they buy apartments from me,” Trump said at a 2015 campaign appearance. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much!”
The projection echoes the lawsuit seeking to force Trump to divest himself of the hotel. The legal complaint, filed by the Attorneys General of the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland in June 2017, states:
“President Trump’s continued ownership interest in a global business empire, which renders him deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors, violates the Constitution and calls into question the rule of law and the integrity of the country’s
political system. Whatever the sincerity of the persons involved, foreign and domestic officials are put in the position of considering whether offering benefits to businesses associated with the
President is important to maintaining goodwill. And irrespective of whether such benefits affect the President’s decision-making or shift his foreign or domestic policy, uncertainty about whether the President is acting in the best interests of the American people, or rather for his own ends or personal enrichment, inflicts lasting harm on our democracy.”