On Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said she won’t be moving the ambassador’s residence into Trump Tower.
This was not because she found something better on Craigslist.
Haley’s statement, made during a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, came as Democrats and ethics experts express concern about President Trump earning money from hosting government business at his properties.
Rep. Norma Torres, D-California, asked Haley if taxpayer dollars would potentially be spent at a Trump Organization property.
In 2015, the UN ambassador’s quarters were moved from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel after it was purchased by the Chinese, because of concerns about spying.
Torres said that was a good move. “But I would also like to get further clarity from you regarding the future of the residence since Trump Tower is only a mile away,” she told Haley. “I want to ensure that you’re not thinking of moving and spending taxpayer dollars at the Trump Tower.”
The current residence is in a hotel near UN headquarters. “I did not pick this location,” asserted Haley for some reason, “but I will stay in this location until it’s time for me to leave.”
The president has allegedly recused himself from his business interests. Democrats and ethics experts are not entirely buying it, and are concerned that the Trump Organization is profiting from the government.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon leased space in Trump Tower to be closer to the president when he’s in New York. After the election, the Secret Service explored doing the same; it’s unclear whether they did or how much was spent.
As of last week, Trump has visited his for-profit properties 37 times as president. Ethics experts have objected, telling Associated Press that the visits “double as a form of advertising that inappropriately enriches him.”
Before a fundraiser for Trump’s re-election campaign, held yesterday at Trump’s D.C. hotel, the nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight sued the General Services Administration (the government agency that leases the hotel to the Trump Organization) for communications between the Trump Organization and managers of the taxpayer-owned hotel. “President Trump’s fundraiser isn’t just raising funds for his campaign, it’s putting money into his personal pocketbook,” said Austin Evers, American Oversight’s executive director and a State Department lawyer during the Obama administration.