A huge projection lit up the front of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., Monday night with the words “Pay Trump bribes here,” “Emoluments welcome” and the words of the emolument clause.
Bell hoped to draw attention to the accusations that foreign leaders pay for access to the president by staying at Trump’s hotel.
“It’s a pretty clear cut example of impropriety,” Bell told CNN. “This is not like politics as usual. The rules and the lines are being pushed so far, and this seemed to be so clear to me.”
The Trump Organization rents the property from the General Services Administration, which is overseen by the president. When Trump took office in January, he essentially became both landlord and tenant of the property, which sits just blocks from the White House.
Besides the “Trump bribe” and “emoluments welcome” projection, Bell also projected the words of the emolument clause, which reads, “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States; and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, or any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
Other businesses have taken issue with the agreement, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit in January, saying that Trump was violating the emolument clause by receiving money from foreign governments through his businesses.
However, the federal government determined in March that it was not violating its lease or the clause with the agreement because, according to them, the legal arrangements Trump set up will ensure that he gets no money from the hotel while he is in office.
Trump also defended his hotel last year, saying during an interview with The New York Times that “the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”