The CREW complaint with the GSA versus Donald Trump:
January 20, 2017
The Honorable Denise Turner Roth Administrator
General Services Administration 1800 F Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20405
Re: Breach and Default of Ground Lease with Trump Old Post Office LLC
Dear Administrator Roth:
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ("CREW") respectfully requests the General Services Administration ("GSA") immediately initiate the process for establishing that Trump Old Post Office LLC is in breach of its ground lease for the Old Post Office Building. Elected government officials are barred from receiving any benefit under the lease, and now that Mr. Trump has been sworn in today as President of the United States, Trump Old Post Office LLC, a company he largely owns, is in violation of the lease's conflict-of-interest provision. If President Trump's company does not resolve this breach, GSA should exercise its rights to terminate the lease or take other legal action.
On August 5, 2013, Trump Old Post Office LLC entered into a ground lease with the United States for the Old Post Office Building. 1 More than 76% of Trump Old Post Office LLC is owned by DJT Holdings LLC, which in turn is owned almost entirely by The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust.2
Section 37.19 of the ground lease provides that "[no] elected official of the Government of the United States . . . shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom. "3
The purpose of this conflict-of-interest provision is the same as the purpose of the Federal Acquisition Regulation's prohibition on awarding a federal contract to a government employee or a business owned or controlled by a government employee: "to avoid any conflict of interest that might arise between the employees' interests and their Government duties, and to avoid the appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment by the Government toward its employees."4
As Deputy Commissioner Michael Gelber explained to members of Congress during a briefing in December, this standard clause "is included in many GSA leases to create a 'level playing field' and protect the interests of the American people. "5
Mr. Trump was sworn in as President of the United States today. Once that happened, he became an "elected official of the Government of the United States." As a result, he and companies he owns can no longer "be admitted to any share or part" of the lease or "to any benefit that may arise" from it.
On December 14, 2016, GSA asserted that it could make no definitive statement at that time about what would constitute a breach of the lease, and that no determination could be completed "until the full circumstances surrounding the President-elect's business arrangements have been finalized and he has assumed office."6 On January 11, 2017, President Trump held a press conference at which he and his attorney announced his plan to addres