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T-Mobile Execs, Seeking Approval for Sprint Merger, Repeatedly Stayed at Trump’s Hotel

Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, reporting for The Washington Post:

Last April, telecom giant T-Mobile announced a megadeal: a $26 billion merger with rival Sprint, which would more than double T-Mobile’s value and give it a huge new chunk of the cellphone market.

But for T-Mobile, one hurdle remained: Its deal needed approval from the Trump administration.

The next day, in Washington, staffers at the Trump International Hotel were handed a list of incoming “VIP Arrivals.” That day’s list included nine of T-Mobile’s top executives — including its chief operating officer, chief technology officer, chief strategy officer, chief financial officer and its outspoken celebrity chief executive, John Legere. […]

By mid-June, seven weeks after the announcement of the merger, hotel records indicated that one T-Mobile executive was making his 10th visit to the hotel. Legere appears to have made at least four visits to the Trump hotel, walking the lobby in his T-Mobile gear.

This is such outrageous bullshit — so blatantly, patently unethical — that it’s hard to believe Republicans just accept this. The hypocrisy could not be thicker. Of course there’s always been and always will be a partisan slant to Congressional oversight of the president. But this isn’t shades of gray. This is acceptance of “anything goes”.

The core outrage here is the president profiting from his office, and the Republicans in Congress who accept it. But shame on Legere and his fellow T-Mobile executives for playing along with it.

The president of the United States should not own hotels. (They made Jimmy Carter sell his goddamn peanut farm before taking office.) If the president owns hotels (which he shouldn’t), he shouldn’t own one right down the street from the White House. If the president owns hotels, and owns one in Washington (which he shouldn’t), at the very least nobody with business before the administration should spend a nickel at that hotel.

When posed with such a blatant conflict of interest, a situation that is clearly a form of de facto bribery, no one should be asking, “Well, is this president a Democrat or a Republican?”

Wednesday, 16 January 2019