Donald Trump’s handling of the events at Charlottesville, VA, has certainly cost him politically. Numerous politicians have spoken out against his apparent coddling of white supremacists, but now there are reports that he may have reaped some financial benefit from the rally.
Business Insider has reported that alt-right leader Richard Spencer was spotted at Trump’s Washington D.C. Hotel in early August. Business Insider reports that a New York Timesreporter saw Spencer there, alongside Evan McLaren, who works for Spencer’s white nationalist think tank, the National Policy Institute.
Business Insider reports that McLaren declined to answer the Times reporters questions because he was “too busy planning a rally.” This was the same rally which resulted in the death of a counter-protester when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd. For his part, McLaren has spoken out regarding Business Insider’s article, claiming that his comments were “construed from an offhand remark.”
Regardless of whether the hotel was used for the planning of the Charlottesville rally, it has undeniably become a popular gathering spot for Trump supporters and White House officials. Wealthy supporters and even some visiting dignitaries will often stay at the hotel as a way of getting into the president’s good graces. The bills for these stays can often cost thousands of dollars. The money, of course, goes to Trump’s business.
The hotel itself has been a source of controversy since Trump was elected. Due to the fact that the building was owned by the federal government, there were arguments that Trump’s profiting from it was a violation of the law and could result in conflicts of interest. However, the U.S. General Services Administration ruled in Trump’s favor, but many are unconvinced. The hotel is just one small part of Trump’s business empire and many fear that he will use the presidency in order benefit his company. While he has given control over to his sons, they have said they will keep him apprised of the situation. He has said he will not discuss the specifics of any deals with them, but, for now, all we have is Trump’s word and, for many people, that is simply not enough.