Congressman Cohen Questions GSA about Trump International Hotel Lease

January 28, 2020
Press Release
Also questions why the federal government is agreeing to confidentiality clauses in leases


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today questioned General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily W. Murphy at a Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management hearing on “GSA Outleases and the Trump Old Post Office Hotel.”   

Congressman Cohen asked Administrator Murphy about a confidentiality agreement involving the long-term lease of the Hotel Monoco located in GSA’s historic Tariff Commission Building in downtown Washington.  

“Why would a government agency that’s responsible to the public and responsible to Congress for oversight have a confidentiality clause in a lease; why would you agree to that?” asked the Congressman Cohen. “You’re agreeing to something to keep the public out of it. That’s not your job; you should not agree to it. If a tenant wants to not have the lease be public, there’s something wrong with the lease.”  

Congressman Cohen also questioned Administrator Murphy about GSA’s plans to review a potential new lessee of the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is now doing business as the Trump International Hotel. News organizations have reported that the Trump Organization is considering selling the lease.  

“You said that you would, if it was required, look into the new owners of the hotel lease and whether they had foreign influence. If it’s not required, let me suggest you find a way to make it required,” he said. 

Congressman Cohen also asked about reports that a Saudi lobbyist bought blocks of rooms in the Trump International Hotel shortly after President Trump was elected. 

“The Saudis apparently bought 500 rooms in the hotel. Do you have any basis to believe any of those rooms were even occupied? We ought to look into it…You can sell rooms to anybody – a foreign power, an American group, anybody – rooms could be sold and not used, and that’s a way to provide graft,” he said. 

See the entire exchange with Administrator Murphy here.