On Thursday afternoon, three documents providing detailed financial information about President Trump’s D.C. hotel could be found posted on the website of the General Services Administration.
Later that night, they were gone. What happened?
First, some background.
The hotel is in the Old Post Office Pavilion, a government-owned property managed by the GSA. Under a 2013 deal between the GSA and the Trump Organization, the company sends the government $3 million in base rent and a share of profits beyond a certain threshold. The deal requires the Trump Organization to share its financial information with the government on a routine basis.
[How the Trump hotel changed Washington’s culture of influence]
Sharing that data might normally be a matter of little controversy, but this project now falls well outside the boundaries of normal. Trump is president, he is still benefiting financially from the hotel, and congressional Democrats, ethical experts, government watchdogs and competing hotels aren’t happy about it.
The documents show the hotel’s financial performance in February, March and April of this year, as well as year-to-date totals, offering far more information about the hotel’s operations than previous disclosures. Up until Thursday, the GSA had only posted heavily redacted versions of the “monthly statement certificates” providing no financial information.
This time, the certificates for February, March and April were almost completely free of redaction, allowing anyone to see the company’s budgeted and actual financial performance for every segment of the hotel (rooms, food/beverage, spa and parking, for instance) along with an analysis of how it is faring against competitors.
At the top of the documents is an all-caps warning: “PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. NOT SUBJECT TO RELEASE TO THE PUBLIC UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.”
[Trump D.C. hotel turns $2 million profit in four months]
GSA press secretary Pamela A. Dixon said the documents were posted by accident. “The documents were posted inadvertently and have been removed from our website,” she said in an email.
Critics of the lease deal immediately wondered if the White House had intervened to have the documents removed. Dixon said no such thing happened. “The White House was not involved,” she wrote. President Trump and his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, have resigned from the family business and pledged to remove themselves from its operations.
The Washington Post decided to publish the documents, which it downloaded before they were removed. They are below.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz