Trump's DC hotel eyed for Democratic probes

With Democrats preparing to take control of the US House of Representatives, investigations are likely to surface with the Trump International Hotel taking the spotlight at ground zero.

WASHINGTON, DC (REUTERS) - It's a symbol of Donald Trump's success in real estate in the heart of Washington. Now the Trump International Hotel is about to become a major headache for the president.

Trump already battling multiple lawsuits - charging that his ownership of the hotel violates a clause in the constitution that says presidents can't take payments from other governments.

"We know that foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favour with the President of the United States," said Karl Racine, Washington DC Attorney General. 

Kuwait - the Phillipines - Malaysia - are among the foreign governments spending money at the hotel since Trump won the presidency, according to press accounts.

Saudi Arabia spent US$270,000 (S$317,000) at the property as part of a lobbying campaign around the time of Trump's election.

Trump also facing questions about whether he's trying to keep competitors out of the neighbourhood. Emails released earlier this year suggesting he was involved in a decision to rebuild the FBI's headquarters at its current location - a block away from his hotel - cancelling plans to move to the suburbs.

Critics say that decision could drive up the new headquarters' construction costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The decision also prevents rival developers from potentially building a competing hotel on the site.

The government's landlord, General Services Administration head Emily Murphy, says Trump wasn't involved. But an internal watchdog found she misled lawmakers when she was asked about it earlier this year.

"The Trump hotel is just one item in a long list of topics Democrats plan to investigate - hush money payments to alleged paramours, Trump's ties to Russia, his threats against news outlets and other organisation he doesn't like… and Democrats are certain to zero in on his real estate empire. You may not see many Democrats checking in to the Trump International Hotel - but expect to see them checking it out."