Chairs DeFazio and Titus Correct the Record Regarding Oversight on Old Post Office Lease
Washington, DC- Today, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Dina Titus (D-NV) responded to a recent news report of a lack of adequate oversight over President Trump serving as landlord and tenant of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.
“As Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure I have an obligation and duty to exercise oversight, which I take very seriously,” said DeFazio. “Like many Americans, even before President Trump was sworn into office, I raised serious questions about his possible conflicts of interests and whether or not he could use his position to enrich himself, his business or his associates when it comes either the FBI headquarters relocation plan, or the Trump Hotel lease at the Old Post Office, which is why I have pressed for answers dating back to November 2016. My questions are well-documented, and despite some stonewalling by this administration, our Committee’s team of oversight and investigative experts have been diligently plugging away at records requests, interviews, and more in search of the truth. I look forward to learning even more during our Committee’s hearing on the Old Post Office lease that we’re holding September 25th.”
“The story mischaracterizes where we are with the investigation. Chairman DeFazio is not one to back down when there’s a wrong to be righted. As I’ve said, there are many unanswered questions surrounding the federal lease of the Old Post Office and the President profiting off foreign emoluments. The extent to which foreign leaders and interests are currying favor with the Trump Administration by spending at the Trump Hotel is still an incomplete picture. Chairman DeFazio and I continue to press this administration to be forthright in providing information to assist in our ongoing investigation. I am confident that under Chairman DeFazio’s leadership we will shine a bright light on the ethical and legal questions surrounding the President of the United States personally profiting off his office,” said Titus.
The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management conducts, in addition to other things, oversight over public buildings, and the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration (GSA). This includes jurisdiction over the lease of the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., which as of August 5, 2013, is leased to the Trump Old Post Office, LLC. President Trump is the sole beneficiary of a trust with a controlling interest in Trump Old Post Office, LLC.
- November 2016: DeFazio and Subcommittee Ranking Member Andre Carson join Oversight & Government Reform Ranking Members Cummings and Connolly in sending a letter to then-Administrator Roth requesting information about how the GSA plans to address the imminent breach-of-lease and conflict of interest issues created by President-elect Donald Trump’s lease with the U.S. Government for the Trump International Hotel building
- January 23, 2017: DeFazio joins House Oversight & Government Reform Ranking Member Cummings in sending a letter to GSA Acting Administrator Timothy Horne requesting that GSA re-evaluate the Old Post Office lease agreement, an explanation of the steps GSA had taken or planned to take in response to the alleged breach of contract, and copies of
- notices sent to Trump Old Post Office, LLC concerning the breach of lease or notices sent in response to the public reports of construction liens filed against the Old Post Office building
- unredacted monthly reports of both the revenues and expenses for the Trump International Hotel
- any correspondence that GSA had with Trump Old Post Office, LLC or the Trump transition team regarding the Trump International Hotel
- February 9, 2017: Response letter from GSA declined to provide any substantive information requested
- March 2017: In-person staff briefing on the lease following GSA contract officer’s decision that the lease was in compliance
- March 7, 2017: DeFazio and Subcommittee Ranking Member Hank Johnson send letter to GSA IG requesting an investigation into the management and administration of the Old Post Office lease agreement with the Trump Organization
- April 6, 2017: DeFazio and Johnson join Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Ranking Member Carper and Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Cardin demanding an explanation of why information requested by Ranking Members had not been provided by GSA. The letter requested an explanation for this partisan change in policy, which officials provided this guidance, and whether the White House or any other federal agency provided instruction on this matter
- June 12, 2017: DeFazio and Hank Johnson send letter to GSA Acting Administrator Timothy Horne requesting response to previous letters
- July 2017:
- As of July 2017: Democrats on T&I had sent five letters to GSA requesting documents related to the Old Post Office lease; GSA failed to provide most of the information requested
- July 12, 2017: Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management hearing: Ranking Member DeFazio repeatedly asks Acting GSA Administrator Timothy Horne to answer questions about the administration and management of the Old Post Office lease agreement. Horne was not able to answer DeFazio’s questions and some of Horne's responses directly countered testimony from other GSA officials testifying before the Senate on the same day. Video of that exchange can be found here.
- July 12, 2017: Ranking Member DeFazio and Subcommittee Ranking Member Hank Johnson release Democratic staff report titled “Breach of a Lease: The Tale of the Old Post Office in the Swamp” detailing GSA’s complete failure to administer the OPO lease agreement in accordance with the terms of the lease
- Ranking Members DeFazio and Johnson introduce a Resolution of Inquiry to force GSA to produce:
- All guidance or direction to the Acting Administrator or other GSA staff regarding responses to requests for information from Members of Congress and Ranking Members of Committees;
- All documents associated with the OPO lease agreement between the Government and the Trump Organization, including annual statements, budgets, mortgage agreements, and claims; and
- All legal memoranda or opinions regarding the OPO lease agreement
- Due to Republican opposition to doing oversight on the lease, DeFazio lost the vote on the "Resolution of Inquiry" and the resolution was reported unfavorably to the floor with no subsequent action
- January 16, 2019: GSA IG releases report finding that GSA did not consider the emoluments clause in advance of a GSA contracting officer certifying the new organizational structure put in place by President Trump
- January 22, 2019: Chairman DeFazio and Chair Titus send a letter to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy requesting records and answers to questions from previous letters
- February 12, 2019: GSA responds to DeFazio/Titus Jan. 22 request with responsive documents and begins rolling productions to the Committee; to date the Committee has received thousands of pages of documents from GSA but there are still outstanding categories of documents that GSA has withheld