U.S. Attorney General William Barr has reportedly booked President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., for a winter holiday party that a Washington Post report says will likely bring the hotel more than $30,000 in revenue.
The Post said Tuesday that it obtained a copy of the contract Barr signed for a private 200-person “Family Holiday Party” at the Trump International Hotel’s Presidential Ballroom on Dec. 8.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A department official told the Post that Barr is paying for the party himself and only chose the Trump hotel after finding out other venues were booked.
According to the newspaper, its copy of Barr’s contract requires a minimum of $100 per person for food and drink before an additional 35% for taxes and tip, and calls for the attorney general to pay at least $31,500 even if the event gets canceled.
The party booking is the latest report about money being funneled into Trump’s properties during his presidency. A day earlier, Trump said he would likely hold next year’s international Group of Seven summit at his golf resort in Doral, Florida.
“He’s the owner of the thing …. It at least creates the appearance of corruption,” former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub previously told HuffPost.
In announcing the possibility of his Doral resort as the next G-7 site, Trump said, “I’m not going to make any money.”
But as previously reported by HuffPost, Trump directly receives any money spent on his properties ― including hotels and golf courses ― because he is the sole beneficiary of a trust that owns his family business, the Trump Organization.
The president’s many properties frequently host lobbyists trying to influence his policies, foreign governments and politicians, opening Trump to conflicts of interest. The Justice Department is currently defending the president’s Washington hotel against a lawsuit filed by nearly 200 members of Congress accusing Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause ― a provision to prevent corruption ― by continuing to profit from his businesses.
Though the Justice Department told the Post that Barr did not book the party out of loyalty to the president, the top U.S. law enforcement official’s independence from Trump has been questioned before. Barr was criticized earlier this year for making misleading remarks about then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, echoing the false “no collusion” narrative that Trump has been repeating for years.
Shaub, who has been a vocal critic of Trump’s ethics decisions, told the Post that, although Barr’s decision to book a party at Trump’s hotel does not violate the rules, the attorney general “keeps sending signals that his loyalty is to a politician and not to the country.”