Although he pledged to step away from his businesses after becoming president, Donald Trump is still "definitely involved" in running his empire, a director at one of his hotels said in an email.
"I had a brief meeting with him a few weeks ago, and he was asking about banquet revenues and demographics," wrote Jeng Chi Hung, director of revenue management at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in a September email to a former employer. "And, he asked if his presidency hurt the businesses. So, he seems self aware about things, at least more than he lets on."
Trump was "supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he's definitely involved," said Hung in the email, according to the Daily Beast.
A hotel spokesperson said Hung's claims were untrue. "Completely false and employee admitted to making the statement to inflate himself," Patricia Tang told the UK "Independent" newspaper.
Mickael Damelincourt, the hotel's managing director, said the email was sent by Hung but its contents were "total nonsense." “We have met with the individual and he has confirmed that he made these comments up in an effort to enhance his sense of importance to a former employer,” he told the "Independent." “In fact, this individual confirmed to me today that he has never met the President nor did any conversation ever take place. We are continuing to investigate this matter internally.”
Upon his inauguration, Trump turned his multibillion-dollar businesses over to a trust managed by his sons, and he said they wouldn't discuss the businesses with him.
There has been ongoing controversy about whether Trump has been using the presidency to enrich himself. He has spent more than 100 days at Trump-branded properties, and GOP fundraisers have been held at the Trump hotel in D.C. Critics charge he has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments via his hotels and real-estate deals.
A lawsuit to that effect brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was thrown out by a judge last week, claiming the group had a lack of standing.