The Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., are being staffed by park rangers while national parks are closed due to the partial government shutdown over border wall funding, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told MSNBC on Wednesday.
The lease agreement by the Trump organization employing the rangers is unconstitutional, Rep. Tlaib claimed:
“Look, think about it. Today, just today we found out that even though our national parks are closed that the Trump Tower here in D.C., the Trump hotel in D.C. is being staffed by the park rangers. Despite the fact that we have no staffing, no parks open for the American people and even today the inspector general said the federal agencies were in violation of the United States Constitution by creating a lease agreement with the Trump organization.
“Look, this is leading continually on to know there's a direct violation of the United States Constitution. Look, think about the precedent that we’re setting, allowing a president of the United States not to divest in all of his corporations. He's making decisions based on profit, not based on what’s the best interest of our people.”
As the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) explains in a January 4. 2019 The New York Times article, the lease employing the park rangers is actually to keep open a historic clock tower in a federally-owned building housing the Trump International Hotel - and that the GSA is required by law to keep the site open:
Amanda Osborn, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, which owns the building and leases it to the Trump Organization, said in an email that the shutdown exemption for the comparatively little-known clock tower was "unrelated to the facility's tenant" — the Trump business. The agency says the law that put it in charge of the site obligates it to keep it open, even as federal Washington closes around it.
And, as The Washington Examiner reported on January 3, 2019, it is National Park Service (NPS) policy to enter agreements with third parties to keep "specified visitor services" - like the clock tower - open:
GSA agreed in 2013 to lease the Old Post Office Building to the Trump Organization for 60 years, so the company could renovate the city's former main General Post Office and turn it into a hotel.
Pursuant to NPS policy, the NPS can negotiate arrangements with "local governments, cooperating associations and/or other third parties" to continue "specified visitor services."