D.C. hotel, global business ties complicate start of Trump's presidency

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump is not only now the president, but he is also effectively his own landlord at the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a building his company leases from the federal government.

“My theme today is five words: under budget and ahead of schedule, that’s what we did,” Trump said at the ribbon cutting last October.

It’s a potential problem for President Trump, since the lease for the Old Post Office building specifies that no elected officials in the U.S. government can hold the lease.

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An exterior view of the entrance to the new Trump International Hotel at the old post office on October 26, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Gabriella Demczuk, Getty Images

Experts say Mr. Trump’s conflicts of interests only begin there. He rejected the advice from some government ethics lawyers to sell his companies or put them in a blind trust, neither of which he is required by law to do.

The path he chose: to give his eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump full control of the multi-billion dollar business.

“They’re not going to discuss it with me. Again, I don’t have to do this,” Trump said at the press conference announcing the arrangement.

He also said he would hire new ethics adviser to review all domestic deals, and said the company will not enter into any new foreign transaction.

But CBS News has counted at least 10 countries, including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, where Mr. Trump’s company has business interests.

“He knew exactly what he needed to do and he was unwilling to do it,” said Steve Schooner, a George Washington University law professor.

Schooner pointed out that the president could still make profits off his companies.

“Decisions that he makes as president will impact his bottom line. He will personally benefit or be hurt based on a number of decisions he makes as president,” he said.

The president has said any profits that come from foreign government guests at the hotel would go to the U.S. Treasury.

But already his status as president appears to be mixing government and business, as Trump visited his own hotel for an unscheduled dinner on Wednesday and a luncheon Thursday.