WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Former United States President Donald Trump's businesses tried to hide millions of dollars in payments from foreign governments that flowed through his unprofitable hotel in downtown Washington, a US congressional committee said on Friday (Oct 8).
The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform said hotel records raise "troubling" questions about the Trump International Hotel, which is in a historic building the Trump Organisation leases from the federal government.
The hotel served as a popular gathering spot for Mr Trump's supporters, foreign dignitaries, and his fellow Republicans during his time in office.
According to the Democratic-controlled committee, Mr Trump reported that the hotel earned him more than US$150 million (S$203.2 million) during his time in office, but actually lost more than US$70 million.
The committee found that the hotel received over US$3.7 million in payments from foreign governments - roughly equal to more than 7,400 nights at the hotel, posing a potential conflict of interest.
Provisions in the US Constitution prohibit the president from obtaining payments, or "emoluments", from foreign governments.
The hotel gave a portion of that money to the US government but failed to provide details of those payments to the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that manages federal properties, the Democratic-controlled committee said.
Mr Trump's lawyers have argued in court cases that his ownership of the hotel did not violate these constitutional provisions.
A Trump Organisation spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The GSA, likewise, did not immediately respond.
Congressional Democrats say the GSA stonewalled their investigation into Mr Trump's businesses while he was in office, but in July 2021 finally produced some of the documents they had been seeking.
The committee also found that Mr Trump moved millions of dollars through other businesses, complicating GSA's ability to enforce provisions that prohibited him from collecting profits from the hotel.
The committee also found that he concealed debts when he was bidding for use of the property in 2011.