The funds will go to the Republican National Committee and support Trump’s re-election campaign, along with other GOP priorities. Three hundred guests were expected to attend the fundraiser, where individual seats were sold for at least $35,000.
The president’s continued insistence on hosting presidential events, from entertaining foreign leaders to raising campaign funds, at his own properties raises more and more ethical concerns.
Norm Eisen, who served as the chief ethics lawyer under former President Barack Obama, accused Trump of acting illegally and called Wednesday night’s event “a new low.” He argued the president was in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause, as Trump was profiting from the event at his hotel, which he leases from the U.S. government, meaning he was essentially receiving additional financial benefits through the federal government on top of his presidential salary.
Washington University in St. Louis law professor Kathleen Clark told USA Today that the fundraiser did not break any laws, but it was another example of the commander in chief using the presidency to promote Trump properties.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters late Wednesday that they would be permitted to listen to the president’s remarks, but she canceled the invitation just before the event. New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi said the deputy press secretary cited “confusion with the RNC” as the reason.
When Trump arrived at the event, he was met with demonstrators protesting the latest health care bill.
The new legislation that would leave 22 million fewer people insured over the next 10 years remains stalled in the Senate. Amid members of his own party announcing they opposed the new legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the body would delay its vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess.
Language in this story has been amended to clarify Eisen’s argument about how Trump was in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause.