Trump sells Washington hotel lease to investment group

By Paul LeBlanc and Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) – Former President Donald Trump has officially left the hotel business in Washington, DC.

The Trump Organization on Wednesday completed the sale of its luxury hotel lease on Pennsylvania Avenue to CGI Merchant Group and its partner Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which will operate the hotel as a Waldorf Astoria property.

“As a family, it has been an honor and a privilege to redevelop the nation’s former post office,” Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said Wednesday. “We took a dilapidated, underused government building and transformed it into one of the most iconic hotels in the world.”

The hotel has been a source of controversy — and the subject of lawsuits and investigations — ever since Trump took over the Oval Office. It was a meeting place for Republicans and others who sought to be close to the then president. But it also caught the attention of Democrats, who believed Trump was taking unfair advantage of his presidency.

The General Services Administration, which manages federal buildings and lands, awarded the lease of the Old Post Office Building to Trump in 2012. Trump opened the hotel in 2016, when he was the nominee Republican for president.

When he took office, Trump resigned from his companies but transferred his assets to a trust run by his sons, allowing him to continue to benefit financially from the DC Hotel and his other businesses.

Documents released by the House Oversight Committee showed the hotel received millions from foreign governments in payments and loan deferrals, which Trump did not disclose, raising conflict of interest questions potential during his presidency.

The committee last month asked the GSA to terminate the lease before Trump could sell it, in order to bar the Trump Organization from profiting from the sale. But the GSA said its review determined the sale price – $370 million – was reasonable.

He added that Trump and CGI believed the hotel, which was unprofitable under Trump, “would generate much more revenue than it currently generates, largely by being able to bring in more guests to the hotel”.

Last year, CNN observed a largely empty hotel during several visits to the property after Trump left.

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