WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump appears to be planning his election night “victory” party not in his new home state of Florida, but in Washington, D.C. ― providing him possibly his final opportunity to cash in on his presidency.
While Trump votes by mail using his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, as a mailing address, Mar-a-Lago is a members-only club, with only a small number of guest rooms, many of which are taken up by Secret Service agents when the president is there.
In contrast, his hotel a few blocks from the White House has 263 rooms that during peak periods cost more than $1,000 to several thousand dollars per night to occupy. Those rates could put hundreds of thousands of extra dollars from supporters into Trump’s own pocket.
“One last chance,” joked a top Republican close to the White House who confirmed the location.
Should Trump lose his bid for a second term on Nov. 3, there will be little reason for lobbyists and foreign interests hoping to influence him or his executive branch agencies to continue patronizing the hotel and its restaurants, which are significantly more expensive than surrounding properties of similar quality.
Neither the White House nor the Trump campaign responded to HuffPost queries on the matter. Neither entity has announced plans for election night, which is just three weeks away.
Trump International Hotel in Washington is entirely sold out from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4, according to its website. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington back in January found that election night was already sold out, and that the cheapest available room for Nov. 4 was $1,600.
Rooms this week, during the Senate confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, run from $895 per night for a king room to $2,171 for a “premier one-bedroom suite.”
For the next two weeks, the king room is available for $439 a night and the suite for $1,871.
In contrast, rooms are available for election night for $329 at the nearby Willard Intercontinental, which also receives five stars on the Hotel.com website.
“That is so unsurprising,” longtime Florida GOP consultant Rick Wilson, who now helps runs the anti-Trump group Lincoln Project, said of the president’s effort to get his hotel more business. “If Donald Trump loses, I think the whole house of cards of hotels and golf clubs collapses within a year.”
Presidential candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, have traditionally held their election-night gatherings in their home states. Barack Obama was in Chicago in 2008 and 2012, Bill Clinton was in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1992 and 1996 and Ronald Reagan was in California in 1980 and 1984.
Democrat Hillary Clinton held hers in New York City in 2016 after having served as a senator for the state. Republican Mitt Romney, who had served as governor of Massachusetts, held his 2012 gathering in Boston.
Two exceptions were Bill Clinton’s 1996 challenger, Republican Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, who held his election night party at a Washington hotel, and then-President George W. Bush of Texas, whose 2004 gathering was at a federal building a few blocks from the White House.
“I’m going to guess that Bob Dole probably did not own the hotel,” one GOP consultant joked privately.
Trump, although he campaigned to “drain the swamp,” has instead used his presidency to funnel millions of dollars to himself ― the very definition of corruption. Political committees he controls, including his own re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee, have spent $7 million at Trump businesses since he took office, not including the $15,000 a month that his campaign secretly pays the wife of one Trump son and the girlfriend of another.
Trump has also directed millions of taxpayer dollars into his own cash registers by insisting on staying at his own resorts and hotels, thereby forcing Secret Service and other government employees traveling with him to stay there, as well.
A recent New York Times report found over 200 companies, interest groups and foreign governments that had frequented Trump’s various hotels and golf courses while benefiting from his administration’s decisions.