Mar 31 2017
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), released the following statement after the General Services Administration (GSA) provided a briefing to his staff on President Donald Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building.
“After months of equivocation, on March 23rd GSA announced that the Trump Old Post Office, LLC is in full compliance with all provisions of the lease between the Old Post Office Building in Washington and affiliates of the Trump Organization. Over the past several months, I joined several members of Congress in raising concerns about potential non-compliance with section 37.19 of the lease, which provides, in part:
‘No…elected official of the Government of the United States…shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.’
“I sent four written requests for information to GSA about this lease over a number of months, but none of them have received a substantive response. Today, GSA provided a bipartisan staff briefing to my staff and staff of the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee in an effort to address these concerns. They failed. In fact, after today’s briefing, I am gravely troubled by GSA’s inability to respond to basic questions regarding the agency’s determination that the Trump Old Post Office, LLC is in ‘full compliance with Section 37.19 and, accordingly, the Lease is valid and in full force and effect.’
“GSA has either failed to undertake a thorough analysis of these issues, or is keeping the results of its analysis secret. For example, GSA claims to have determined that President Donald Trump is deriving no ‘benefit’ from this lease, but neither the contracting officer’s determination letter, nor GSA officials briefing my staff were able to define the term ‘benefit’. This raises questions as to how GSA could possibly conclude that the president will derive no “benefit” from the lease if they cannot even describe what a “benefit” is. Based on the agency’s apparent lack of expertise or thoughtfulness on this issue, I am extremely concerned about its ability to manage the lease.
“I am even more disturbed by the explicit statements made by GSA officials during this briefing that, beginning on January 20, 2017, the Trump Administration changed GSA’s long-standing practice of providing certain documents requested by minority members of congress, including the ranking member of the committee of jurisdiction with direct oversight of GSA. During the briefing, agency personnel stated that its new practice only assures that such documents will be provided to the committee’s chairman. The Trump Administration’s refusal to provide transparent and complete responses to elected officials in both parties who are equally responsible for oversight of the executive branch raises questions about just what GSA is trying to hide.”