Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, brushed off concerns about government spending at President Donald Trump’s businesses on Tuesday, saying Trump’s hotels are “just like any other hotel.”
His comments come as House Democrats move to expand their impeachment investigation to focus on Trump’s business dealings and questions of corruption.
“The President’s resorts are hotels that he owns. People are traveling, it’s just like any other hotel,” McCarthy said at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday morning. “I don’t know that that’s different than anything else. Is it different if I go and stay or eat at a Marriott here, or eat at the Trump? The President isn’t asking me to. He’s competing in a private enterprise.”
Trump did not divest from his interests in the Trump Organization upon entering office, prompting ethical concerns from Democrats who argue he is profiting from the presidency. Their criticism has ramped up in the past several weeks, as separate controversies have swirled around Trump’s resorts.
First, he announced that he was considering holding next year’s G7 summit at his National Doral resort in Miami. The proposal prompted Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to announce on August 28 that they would investigate the matter.
Then, Vice President Mike Pence stayed at Trump’s resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, for two nights during his official trip last week. Doonbeg has a population of less than 1,000, and it is 181 miles away from Dublin, where Pence met with government officials during the trip. Initially, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters Trump had suggested Pence stay at the resort — something the President later denied. Pence’s office also defended the move by saying it had to do with security planning and Pence’s ancestral ties to the area.
Democrats on the House Oversight and Judiciary committees are demanding information and documents about both Pence’s stay and the G7 summit location planning from the White House, the Vice President’s office, the Trump Organization, and the US Secret Service.
“The Committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family, and his companies,” Oversight chairman, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, wrote last Friday.
Democratic questions about Trump’s businesses have only intensified since Politico first reported on Friday that Cummings’ committee has, for several months, been investigating increased military expenditures at the Trump Turnberry golf course and resort in Scotland.
“I’ve always felt this is the heart of it,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Oversight and Judiciary committees, told CNN of Trump’s business dealings on Monday. He argued that Americans will be able to easily understand the issue as Democrats incorporate it in their impeachment investigation.
“People understand what it means for the President to be spending millions of dollars in federal government tax dollars at his own business properties,” Raskin said.
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern agreed.
“Those questions are very, very important,” he said. “This is the most corrupt president in my lifetime, so I’m glad the Judiciary Committee is moving in that direction.”