The case involves Trump's hotel located in a taxpayer-owned building, known as the Old Post Office Building. In 2013, the federal General Services Administration leased the historic building to the Trump Organization, which opened the hotel in the fall of 2016.
Here's the issue: A provision in the lease says no federal elected official
can be on the lease or benefit from it.
Despite that language, GSA has taken no action to force Trump out of the lease. Meanwhile, Trump's hotel is earning a reputation as "the place to be"
for lobbyists, political players and foreign diplomats. The GSA hasn't publicly addressed the lease since Trump took office. An agency spokeswoman said it had no comment.
The lawsuit cites examples that it says show the president, his family and administration officials were seeking to boost what the lawsuit calls the hotel's income-producing potential.
The suit, filed on Wednesday, seeks no monetary compensation. Instead, the plaintiffs want Trump to divest from the hotel or close it for the duration of his presidency.
At the press conference, lawyer Steven Schooner said an elected official shouldn't be competing with the private sector.
"It's an unacceptable conflict and nobody ever intended that this be tolerated," he said.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the lawsuit
at a press briefing on Thursday. He didn't speak to the lawsuit itself.
But he reiterated that a president is not covered by the federal conflicts of interest law.
"You know, obviously, the president has made very clear in that December press conference at Trump Tower, he doesn't have conflicts and he's done everything in accordance with the guidance that he's been given and gone well beyond what he ever needed to do," Spicer said.
Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten called the lawsuit "a wild publicity stunt completely lacking in legal merit."
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