President-elect Donald Trump, who is facing a resolution from Senator Ben Cardin, (D, Maryland), to block his inauguration because of his failure to divest himself of his business interests, is being told by his lawyers to divest himself of his interests in the grand, ornate Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., prior to taking office on January 20, 2017. The seemingly sound advice from legal counsel is based on language in Trump's $3 million lease, clause 37.19 at the top of page 103, which emphatically states that no "elected official of the Government of the United States" shall be "admitted to any share or part of this Lease."

A converted government building

When Trump attained the lease, the building which later became The Trump International Hotel, was an old post office.

Trump dumped nearly $200 million into the renovation project, making it the ornate splendor that it is today. And now, according to John Sindelar, who is the former senior adviser to the top administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), Trump "has to divest himself of the hotel."

Other experts disagree

Some legal experts disagree that Trump must divest himself of his interests the luxury Washington hotel. One such expert is David Drabkin, formerly the procurement officer for the GSA. According to Drabkin, clause 37.19 only prohibits adding parties after the lease is signed and does not apply to original signers of the lease who attain public office after signing the agreement.

However, Drabkin did advise that it is "absolutely untenable" for a president to lease the building while serving in office "because of other conflict of interest issues."

Foreign dignitaries staying in Washington

Still other experts point to the conflict of interest that would emerge if foreign dignitaries, while visiting the White House and negotiating agreements with the President and his staff, were to stay at The Trump International Hotel.

In that scenario, which would be a public relations nightmare for any administration, Trump would be out of compliance with the federal statute that prohibits presidents from taking any money or profiting from foreign parties.

Consensus: Divest interests in hotel

In consideration of all the possible conflicts of interests and/or appearances of such, the general consensus among Trump's legal experts is that he must divest himself of his interests in the hotel prior to taking office in January.

The general agreement appears to be that holding onto the hotel, even if it is allowed under the terms of the lease, would raise too many eyebrows in Washington and would not be a good idea. Thus far, Trump has not indicated what course of action he will be taking on this matter.

Another Trump flip-flop

Meanwhile, Trump has flip-flopped on yet another position of flag burning. In a nearly two year-old interview with David Letterman, Trump stated that he agreed with both Letterman and the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia that flag burning is an act of "free expression" and was permissible under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Trump now says that flag burners should be stripped of their citizenship or jailed for one year.

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