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Citing public criticism, Eric Trump says his family business may sell its DC hotel

President Donald Trump has faced scrutiny over the lavish Washington, D.C., hotel that bears his name for years, but that property may end up changing hands.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday morning that the Trump Organization has hired a real estate firm to market the rights to the opulent hotel in downtown D.C., according to President Donald Trump's son Eric Trump, who is a Trump Organization executive vice president.

“Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” the younger Trump told the newspaper, who also cited public scrutiny of the property's profits. “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

The company is looking to make about $500 million off the sale of the rights to the property's almost 100-year lease, or about $2 million per hotel room key, according to the newspaper. The building itself is used to be D.C.'s old post office; it is federal property leased to the Trump Organization by the General Services Administration.

The public scrutiny surrounding the president's properties has to do with the portion of the Constitution dealing with what kind of payments and gifts federal officeholders are allowed to receive.

One section of the Constitution says federal officials can't "without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State." Another says that the president can't take "any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them" while in office.

Trump's critics have taken this to mean that it's unconstitutional for his businesses — which are currently being run by his sons — to accept payments from foreign or domestic government officials. Others, however, argue that the Founders' intent wasn't to target presidents' still-operating businesses.

And while it hasn't received as much attention as allegations about Russian collusion, obstruction of justice, or pressuring Ukrainian officials, the emoluments argument has been in the background of efforts to impeach and/or undermine the president for years.

Efforts to use the Emoluments Clause against President Trump go back as far as 2017, when the governments of the District of Columbia and Maryland sued the president for "flagrantly violating" it. A federal judge determined in July that the case lacked standing. Days later, a federal judge temporarily blocked congressional Democrats' subpoenas in a different Emoluments Clause case. Both of those cases, however, have been revived on appeal in recent weeks.

Last month, House speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of "violating the Constitution by making money off of his lavish, ritzy resort properties, ultimately prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people" and violating the Emoluments Clause "by accepting and encouraging foreign governments to pay to stay at Trump resort properties without Congressional approval."

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