Will Trump's D.C. Hotel be an Ethical Trap for Him?

President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he arrives to speak at an election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Last week, I wrote about Trump’s newly opened hotel in Washington, D.C. Maintaining ownership of the hotel, while serving as president may present an ethical dilemma for the President-elect, with some experts saying he has to sell the hotel.

Trump has said he would put all of his business interests in a “blind trust” and allow his children to run the business, but that may not be enough to solve the issue with the D.C. hotel, entirely. The lease on the hotel, signed before Trump became the president-elect, says that no politician can have any controlling interest in the hotel.

Until the dispute is settled, however, the hotel is open for business and Trump continues to enrich himself from a range of organizations, including foreign governments, which may prove an even riskier ethical quagmire.

The Heritage Foundation has reserved the “presidential ballroom” at President-elect Donald Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel on Tuesday for an event to honor some of the group’s top donors — those who give at least $1,000 annually.

Mike Pence, the VP-elect, will be the keynote speaker for this event.

More problematic, however, are the guests beyond today’s event.

The Azerbaijani embassy will be co-hosting a Hanukkah party there this month. And the day after the Heritage event, Bahrain has booked the hotel for a “national day reception,” according to an invitation.

The problem with this is the appearance of an American president receiving payoff from a foreign government creates a mind blowing breach of ethics.

No, it’s not the same as money exchanging hands, directly, but it is still the president and his family enriching themselves through dealings with a foreign government. What would prevent some foreign power from offering to direct all of their business to Trump properties, in exchange for certain diplomatic “favors”?

Whether Trump would accept such a proposal is the question at hand, but no president can afford to leave himself open to such appearances of impropriety.

It’s a sticky situation that Trump has, so far, made no moves to rectify, but has promised to address in a December 15 news conference.