[3/29/2017 UPDATE: GSA finds Trump Organization in compliance with the Old Post Office lease.]
The General Services Administration yesterday announced that it will seek “additional information that explains and describes any new organizational structure as it applies to the Old Post Office lease. Upon receipt, consistent with our treatment of any contract to which we are a party, we will review this new organizational structure and determine its compliance with all the terms and conditions of the lease.”
The statement comes on the heels of an announcement by the President-Elect that he will be handing over control of the Trump Organization to his two adult sons, breaking with the tradition that U.S. Presidents place their businesses in a blind trust. The Old Post Office—which was redeveloped by the Trump Organization and is now the Trump International Hotel—has been at the center of the conflict-of-interest controversy since Trump was elected, as many diplomatic events have taken place there.
The GSA cites the language in their lease with the Trump Organization, which was signed by both parties in August of 2013:
The full language of section 37.19 is below:
No member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom; provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed as extending to any Person who may be a shareholder or other beneficial owner of any publicly held corporation or other entity, if this Lease is for the general benefit of such corporation or other entity.
The GSA had previously said they would withhold judgment about how to proceed with the Old Post Office until Trump announced his relationship to his business. Now that he has revealed his intentions to defy convention and not use a blind trust, will further review cause the GSA to cut ties with the Trump Organization if it’s in contempt of the above statement, or will the GSA find that Trump has separated himself enough from the business? It will also be interesting to watch who Trump appoints as the head of the GSA, which will have an enormous impact on this project.