More bums in beds

Well at least this mess is good for business at Trump’s hotel in Manhattan.

The general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan had a rare bit of good news to report to investors this spring: After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018.

What caused the uptick at President Trump’s flagship hotel in New York? One major factor: “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” wrote general manager Prince A. Sanders in a May 15 letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The royals didn’t stay at Trump’s hotel because well, frankly, it’s crap, isn’t it, but they sent a crowd of underlings there.

The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.

Such transactions have fueled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls U.S. foreign policy toward those countries.

Let’s put that less evasively, shall we? Such transactions demonstrate that Trump is indeed using the presidency to make money, in other words that he is acting corruptly.

Last week, a federal judge in Maryland gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit alleging that by accepting government business at his properties, Trump is violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clauses” — dusty 18th-century measures meant to prevent presidents from putting their private bank accounts ahead of the public interest.

If it stands, the ruling could force the company to provide new details about its relationships with foreign governments, states and even federal agencies.

Why hasn’t it come up before? I’m guessing it’s because most presidents are content to wait until after they leave office to start raking it in, because they actually don’t want to tarnish their reputations by selling Presidential Hotel Stays right alongside the more serious work they’re supposed to be doing.

On Friday, after this story was published online, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced that she was already conducting a separate investigation asking if Trump had violated the emoluments clause at his businesses in New York.

Georgetown University law professor John Mikhail, who has been studying the emoluments clauses, said these inquiries together could shatter the veil of privacy that Trump’s company has maintained — even while its owner is in the White House.

“He has very constantly refused to conform to well-established norms about conflict of interest and corruption and the appearance of corruption,” Mikhail said. “At some point in time, he may be told by a court: ‘You lose. You have to comply.’”

Here’s hoping.

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