Trump filed as a candidate for 2020 on Inauguration Day, allowing him to continue fundraising. No other sitting president had filed before midterms.
By Julie Bykowicz
WASHINGTON — President. Candidate. Businessman. Three of President Donald Trump’s roles converge next week as he holds his first major re-election fundraiser at his hotel in Washington.
Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign on Inauguration Day by filing Federal Election Commission paperwork, making it the earliest such effort by a sitting president.
It’s paying off: The campaign raised more than $7 million by the end of March from appeals to small donors and the sale of merchandise such as the ubiquitous red “Make America Great Again” ball caps.
The June 28 fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington is for larger donors. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee will share proceeds.
Trump campaign director Michael Glassner confirmed the site to The Associated Press on Wednesday, calling it a premier and convenient location.
The president can see the hotel, in the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, from the White House lawn. It’s the center of the political universe in his Washington, occasionally housing incoming administration officials and serving as a dinner-and-drinks destination for would-be influencers and past and present Trump aides.
Trump himself foreshadowed the choice of location last week in a text message to supporters. Trying to encourage small donors to participate in a drawing to gain admittance, the campaign wrote, in the voice of Trump: “Do not worry about a thing. We will fly you to DC, we will take a picture together, and you will stay at a beautiful hotel. BIG LEAGUE.”
He and his supporters have referred to the Trump International Hotel in Washington as “beautiful.” The Trump Organization completed a $200 million renovation of the government property weeks before Election Day.
With the General Services Administration as his landlord — and the president as the GSA’s ultimate boss — Trump has tried to distance himself from the property’s finances. Government watchdogs have argued that the steps he’s taken fall short of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.
Under a restructuring outlined in letters between the Trump Organization and the GSA, profits from the hotel will go to an account of the corporate entity that holds the lease, Trump Old Post Office LLC. The letter does not address what might happen to any profits from the hotel after Trump leaves office, or whether they will be transferred to Trump at that time.
Trump’s October ribbon-cutting for the hotel’s grand opening doubled as a campaign event. “Under budget and ahead of schedule,” Trump said, calling it a preview of his approach to running the country.
During his inauguration festivities, Trump’s top donors stayed there, and the president has dined there three times — always with relatives and advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.