North Bethesda Hotel Plays Role in New Trump Lawsuit

Conference center may lose business to president’s D.C. hotel, attorneys general claim in emoluments lawsuit


The Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center is located just off of Rockville Pike

via Marriott

A local hotel is set to play a key role in a major new lawsuit filed Monday by the Maryland and Washington, D.C., attorneys general against President Donald Trump.

The Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center was among several properties in the region that the lawsuit claims could be negatively affected by business being directed to the Trump International Hotel in D.C. as a way for foreign governments to curry favor with the president.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and his D.C. counterpart, Karl Racine, both Democrats, filed the lawsuit against Trump, alleging the president violated the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution by failing to separate himself from his business interests. Attorneys wrote in the lawsuit that the Trump hotel in D.C. has the potential to attract business from the diplomatic community and foreign governments—something they say violates the clause that prevents federal officials from receiving gifts or fees from foreign governments.

That increased business could harm properties such as the North Bethesda Marriott, the site of which is owned by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority and operated in part by the Maryland Stadium Authority. The lawsuit notes the state received tax revenues of more than $2.7 million and county received $1 million generated by the facility in fiscal year 2016.

“The State of Maryland has suffered financial harm because it has a sovereign interest in the receipt of tax revenues from facilities … that are in competition with businesses owned by [Trump] and/or his affiliated enterprises outside of the state,” the lawsuit says.

The attorneys general also cited other properties in the region such as National Harbor in Prince George’s County and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District that could also lose business if customers patronize Trump’s properties instead. The impacted properties are cited to establish standing for Maryland and D.C. to file the lawsuit against the president.

“The emoluments clauses are a firewall against presidential corruption and the one thing we know about President Trump is he understands the value of walls,” Frosh, a former state senator from Bethesda, said during a press conference Monday in D.C. “This is one he can’t climb over and one he can’t dig underneath.”

The Maryland General Assembly this year granted broad powers to Frosh to sue the federal government, a move that has enabled him to file the lawsuit with Racine without a formal directive from the legislative body or Gov. Larry Hogan.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, told The Baltimore Sun on Monday that, “Per the resolution passed by the General Assembly, the governor’s office no longer has a role in the process.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer described the lawsuit as “partisan politics” on Monday.

“The president’s interests, as previously discussed, do not violate the emoluments clause,” Spicer said during a press briefing.

It’s too early to tell if the lawsuit will draw Trump’s ire and possibly impact federal funding for Maryland. Currently, the state is trying to secure $900 million in federal funds for the Purple Line light-rail project that has been held up due to an ongoing federal lawsuit involving the project.

On Monday, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said he supports Frosh’s efforts when asked about the potential risk of losing federal funds.

“I’m a big fan of our attorney general and I personally have found it offensive the president’s relationship with his economic holdings and the extent to which those economic holdings are benefited by his presidency,” Berliner said. “I fully support the attorney general.”

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