Philippine envoy questioned over June 12 party at Trump hotel
A US senator has sent letters to the embassies of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia and the Philippines requesting information about events they held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Philippine envoy questioned over June 12 party at Trump hotel
Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – After the party, the reckoning.  A ranking member of the US Senate foreign relations committee has sent a letter to Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez asking him to reply by July 11 to questions on how much was spent for the Philippine Independence Day party at the Trump International Hotel and why the celebration was held there.

US Sen. Bob Menendez also sent letters to the embassies of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Malaysia requesting information about events they held at the Trump hotel as well as stays of their officials at the controversial hotel.

His letters followed one he sent the Trump organization in March requesting information about payments from foreign governments.

“President Trump has refused to completely divest from his business interests or place them in a blind trust, which creates the potential for conflicts of interest that may lead him to put his own financial interests above those of the US government and the American people,” Menendez wrote in his letters disclosed on Wednesday.

“Our founding fathers had this concern in mind when they wrote Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, which prohibits federal officeholders from accepting emoluments from foreign states without first obtaining the affirmative consent of Congress,” he pointed out.  

Menendez requested the embassies to provide information regarding their process for selecting venues for official events and programs in Washington and whether other venues were considered or bids submitted.

He also asked about any role that outside advisors, US government officials or Trump organization employees had in selecting the venue. He also sought detailed billing information for goods and services.

In his letter to Romualdez, the senator asked for a breakdown of costs for food, beverages, service, etc., when the Trump hotel submitted its invoice and when payment was made.

At the celebration commemorating the 120th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence, Romualdez said the cost of the party came to no more than $60,000 because of a deal he struck with the hotel management that allowed the embassy to bring in Filipino food like lechon and sisig and drinks like Tanduay Rhum. 

He said he opted to hold the reception at the Trump hotel because of its historical pedigree as the Old Post Office Pavilion and felt it a fitting place to celebrate 120 years of Philippine history.

Moreover, the Philippine government reportedly did not have to pay a cent for the reception because the cost was shouldered by friends in private business.?

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