GSA official who cleared Trump’s DC hotel called potential conflicts of interest “nonsense”

Critics say it shows the GSA didn't take the ethical concerns about the lease seriously

TRD New York /
Jul.July 03, 2017 12:47 PM

Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Getty Images)

The General Services Administration employee who allowed President Trump to keep his lease at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., previously described potential conflicts of interest as “nonsense,” released emails have now revealed.

The GSA’s Kevin Terry wrote to the Trump Organization in March to inform it that the D.C. hotel, which is on government land, is in “full compliance” with lease requirements that no government official be involved with or benefit from the contract. Ethics experts still argue the president’s company is overseeing a contract that financially benefits Trump while in office, even if he doesn’t get any of that money until he leaves office.

However, emails obtained by Bloomberg show that days after Trump’s election win, Terry forwarded a BuzzFeed article referring to the potential conflict of interest to the Trump Organization. In the email he wrote “FYI – A fair amount of nonsense.” The email also went to two other GSA employees, according to the publication. The email was released following a Freedom of Information request from a member of the public, and the recipient of the email was redacted. The request was for communications between Terry and Trump’s children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

Following Terry’s decision about the hotel, a coalition of ethicists, government watchdog groups and liberal organizations wrote to the GSA inspector general to ask for a review. Representatives of some of the groups told Bloomberg that the revelation of Terry’s email would strengthen their case.

The email shows that “very early on GSA didn’t take the potential of a conflict of interest very seriously,” Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, told the publication.

The Trump Organization is reportedly looking for a second location for a D.C. hotel, as part of a plan to expand its Scion brand. [Bloomberg]Miriam Hall

Related Articles

Make Greenland Great Again? Trump wants to buy Arctic territory

Make Greenland Great Again? Trump wants to buy Arctic territory

Hamptons’ priciest summer rental to host MAGA extravaganza next month

Hamptons’ priciest summer rental to host MAGA extravaganza next month

250th Issue

The Real Deal celebrates 250 issues

From left: Publisher and founder Amir Korangy, Editor-in-chief Stuart Elliott and VP of Corporate Development Yoav Barilan

TRD’s founders share war stories from over the years

Donald Trump with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Rep. Ron Kind and Sen. Cory Booker (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Trump’s Opportunity Zone program is under investigation

From left:  Council member Rafael Espinal, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council member Antonio Reynoso (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Bushwick rezoning impasse puts de Blasio’s housing plan at risk

Mayor Bill de Blasio, 40 Wall Street, and President Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images, 40 Wall St. via the Trump Organization)

Trump Org blasts mayor for criminal referral of tax findings

Neir’s Tavern (Credit: Google Maps)

City’s oldest bar, of “Goodfellas” fame, gets last-minute lifeline