Prior to April 29, 2018, the date on which T-Mobile and Sprint announced plans to merge into a new telecom giant, T-Mobile executives had spent two nights at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. In the ten months since, they’ve spent at least 52 nights at the property, which is owned by the Trump Organization.
In a letter to Congress last month, the company admitted to spending around $195,000 at the downtown D.C. hotel since the merger announcement, according to the Washington Post. T-Mobile says the increase was not meant to sway regulators deciding whether to approve the merger.
“While we understand that staying at Trump properties might be viewed positively by some and negatively by others, we are confident that the relevant agencies address the questions before them on the merits,” T-Mobile’s Anthony Russo wrote in a letter to Congress. He also pointed out that the nearly $200,000 spent at the Trump hotel amounted to only 14 percent of the $1.4 million the company spent at D.C.-area hotels since the merger announcement.
But the timing of T-Mobile’s first big spend at the Trump hotel is hard to ignore. The day after the merger was announced last April, nine T-Mobile executives checked in. And CEO John Legere made his presence known, according to a January report from the Post:
Inside the hotel’s busy, soaring lobby, Legere was noticed quickly.
“Everybody knew. You couldn’t miss it,” said Jake Loft, who was in the lobby for a regularly scheduled networking event. He spotted Legere by his outfit, which was — as usual — a walking billboard for T-Mobile. Legere wore a black-and-magenta hoodie with a T-Mobile logo over a bright magenta T-shirt with another T-Mobile logo. “He wasn’t dressed appropriately,” Loft said.
He also posed for selfies.
In a letter to Legere, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal wrote, “The recent reports surrounding T-Mobile executives’ decision to patronize the Trump International Hotel — which could influence administration decision making and from which the President could potentially receive financial gain — are concerning.”
Walter Schaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics and current senior adviser at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, put a finer point on it. “T-Mobile funneling cash to Trump in hopes of influencing government action is the type of corrupt behavior that was entirely foreseeable when Trump refused to divest his conflicting financial interests.” he tweeted. “This is a feature of his corrupt administration (and, apparently, T-Mobile).”