No one knows DC’s Trump International Hotel quite like Mother Jones contributor Zach Everson. Now a reporter for Forbes covering money and politics, he used to run an indispensable newsletter called 1600 Pennsylvania during the Trump years, chronicling all the sycophants, favor-seekers, influence-peddlers, and grifters who frequented the hotel to pay tribute—literally—to then-President Trump. You could often spot Zach hunting for notable guests in the lobby or posting up at the very overpriced bar. He was at the hotel so often that he was on a first name basis with the general manager.
Last fall, Zach penned a revealing feature on the hotel for this magazine. One of the running themes was that the November election posed a make-or-break moment not just for Trump, but for his hotel, housed in a historic property administered by the General Services Administration. He wrote:
If he loses, his prized hotel could easily revert to what it was before his 2016 win—discounted and empty. The sycophants, the Levs and Igors, the One America News Network propagandists, the Nigerian politicians, the America First Action fundraisers, the bankers jetting in from Oklahoma, and the White House staffers and administration alums will be gone. As will the Trump-appointed lackeys at the GSA currently overseeing his lease and approval of its possible sale.
Oh, and Joe Biden will be Trump’s new landlord.
And now, here we are.
The Trumps put the hotel on the market prior to the election for the outlandishly high price of $500 million—and that was merely for the right to take over Trump’s lease on the building, not to own it. Then COVID hit, decimating the hospitality (hotel) industry—and the Trump Organization yanked the hotel off the market. The company put the hotel back on sale earlier this summer. That was before New York City District Attorney Cy Vance charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, with tax fraud, which might be a little issue for potential buyers.
Back to Zach. He visited the hotel Thursday night, intrigued by a spike in room rates, which usually indicate a big event the Trump Org is trying to capitalize on—for instance, a Big Lie-themed rally that leads to an insurrection. In a piece posted earlier at Forbes, Zach explained:
The rates that night started at $2,400, well above the usual $400 to $700, and I wanted to find out why. Upon entering, I saw a big sign that read “Arrow Exterminators.” I confirmed that the exterminators were customers rather than contractors, and, with that assignment checked, settled in at the bar to see if any swamp people of note were still showing up with Trump out of power.
During Trump’s presidency, the Embassy of Kuwait held parties at the DC hotel. Now the hotel is apparently hosting pest control galas, which neatly sums up the downward trajectory Zach predicted.
Anyway, he sipped a $17 proseco and snapped a few pictures of the scene in the lobby. Seeing no notables, he prepared to leave, making a pit stop in the restroom. When he exited, the hotel’s director of security, Ernest Wojciech, beckoned Zach over and told him he was being ejected from the hotel—for good.
According to Zach, Wojciech told him the offense that earned him this grave punishment was taking pictures in the hotel. That explanation is a bit of a head-scratcher, considering the place is (or at least was) basically a Republican hype house, an Instagram backdrop for MAGA-types displaying their featly to Trump.
The Trump Organization’s general manager, Mickael Damelincourt, has yet to respond to an inquiry about why the hotel took the extraordinary step of banning a reporter for life, or at least for the lifetime of the hotel, which may be considerably shorter. (I will update this post if we hear back.)
Perhaps hotel officials were piqued that Zach revealed that hotel denizens, sick of the expensive drinks in the lobby bar, were pre-gaming at a local dive called Harry’s.
Additional reporting by Russ Choma.