Flying shard of champagne bottle lands hotel $350,000 lawsuit

Plaintiff alleges flying fragment of a sabered champagne bottle opened a gash in her chin

Last month President Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel was sued for negligence, with the plaintiff alleging a shard of glass flew off a sabered champagne bottle and opened a gash on her chin. She is asking D.C. Superior Court to award her $350,000 in damages.

In her complaint, Cameron Dorsey’s attorneys allege that on Jan. 25, 2018 she was struck on the chin by a piece of glass that flew off a sabered bottle of champagne. “The gash on her chin began gushing blood immediately and security at the hotel called an ambulance,” which took her to Georgetown University Hospital according to the filing. Her attorneys claim that the incident required stitches, left her with a large scar on her chin, caused her to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, and cost her financially via lost wages and medical expenses.

Dorsey’s attorney, Patrick Regan of Regan Zambri Long, a firm specializing in personal injury, has not replied to multiple requests for comment. Representatives from the hotel and the Trump Organization also did not respond.

The initial court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7, 2020 before Associate Judge Florence Pan (an Obama nominee). The hotel was served with a summons on Nov. 12.

Sabering open a bottle of champagne (called sabrage and done elsewhere) is one of the Trump Hotel D.C.’s signature moves, and it usually delights. The hotel’s food and beverage director, Daniel Mahdavian, demonstrated the process in this 2016 video, saying it came about after the Trump family challenged him to come up with something engaging.


Judge declared case closed after GSA turned over unredacted FBI HQ appraisal to CREW

Thursday, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper (appointed by President Obama) closed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s lawsuit vs. the General Services Administration over a document pertaining to the FBI headquarters relocation. The order came after GSA complied with CREW’s Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents about the agency reversing its previous decision to relocate the FBI headquarters.

Such a move would allow that property, located across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Trump Hotel D.C., to be redeveloped, possibly as a competing luxury hotel. Democrats on the House Oversight committee have alleged the president himself intervened in GSA’s decision-making process. The GSA and FBI heads have denied that charge.

In March 2019, Cooper ruled that GSA impermissibly redacted information in its FOIA response that “included appraised values of the Hoover Building, and the value of offers it received for the property—from a document titled ‘Findings and Determination’ (‘F&D’) that explained the agency’s decision to cancel the swap-relocation project.”

The big reveal—GSA’s appraisal valued the J. Edgar Hoover building and land at $610 million, while the land alone was $488 million. (Copies of the unredacted and redacted info are available on DocumentCloud.)


Hotel regular lands gig lobbying for Kuwaiti firm

Last month, hotel regular Martha Boneta, whose LinkedIn profile says she’s a senior advisor for pro-Trump dark money group America First Policies, reportedly added a new gig—lobbyist for a Kuwaiti firm.

From Nov. 11’s Politico Influence by Theodoric Meyer:

The law firm Crowell & Moring has hired Martha Boneta of Victory Coalition Strategies as a subcontractor to lobby on behalf of KGL Investment Company, the Kuwaiti company that’s spent millions of dollars on Washington lobbying this year in an effort to help one of its executives, who’s fighting embezzlement charges in Kuwait. Among the notable names who have lobbied on KGL Investment Company’s behalf: former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) of Squire Patton Boggs, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi of Ballard Partners and Louis Freeh, the former FBI director.

While Boneta’s name may seem out of place alongside two longtime D.C. power brokers and an attorney elected to statewide office in the country’s third most-populous state, Boneta’s Instagram posts—often set in the president’s hotel and other businesses—position her as the ultimate insider in Trump’s D.C. Her photos show a meteoric rise to the top of Trump World for the Paris, Virginia small farmer, who claims a law degree from George Mason.

At the Trump Hotel D.C., Boneta has repeatedly appeared behind a Trump Hotels lectern and addressed the president’s customers. She celebrated her birthday in 2018 with a party at the hotel. And she apparently attended events such as the president’s speech to donors of the America First Action PAC, a fundraiser for Kevin McCarthy’s Take Back the House PAC, and meetings of the Trump Victory finance committee (the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising committee).

And at the Trump Hotel DC, Boneta’s posed for photos with President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, David Bossie, Greg Pence, Corey Lewandowski, Brad Parscale, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean Spicer, Reince Preibus, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and NRA board member Willes Lee, Kimberly Guilfoyle and the My Pillow Guy, Don Jr., Charlie Kirk, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Sebastian Gorka, Ryan Zinke, Lara Trump, Ron DeSantis, Rand Paul, Louis Gohmert, Anthony Scaramucci and the lawyer Charles Gucciardo, who once invested $500,000 into a company owned by Rudy Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

If you publish a daily newsletter reporting on the president’s D.C. hotel, Boneta’s Instagram page is a must-read.

Boneta also has visited Mar-a-Lago, where—with the president at the club—she facilitated access for the head of the Middle Eastern Women’s Coalition. And this spring Boneta stayed at the Trump Hotel and Tower Chicago and plugged it on Instagram.

Her Instagram posts include plenty of other photos with high-profile people outside of Trump properties— such as frequent visits to the WhiteHouse, as recently as yesterday, for events ranging from meetings to bowling. She’s taken least nine photos with Vice President Pence. In Qatar she shook hands with that nation’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. And she had her arm around Turkish billionaire Rahmi Koç

Now lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of a Kuwaiti, hopefully this policy advisor for a pro-Trump dark money group’s Instagram page will continue to provide insight into whom she’s meeting with.


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Campaign expenditures

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $15,742.20 for a facility rental and catering on Oct. 15, 2019 at the D.C. hotel owned by the party’s head. The NRCC now has reported spending a total of $74,872.10 at the Trump Hotel D.C.


Notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

The co-founder of the Japanese cryptocurrency Liberty and the chair of the Japanese Conservative Union, Jikido “Jay” Aeba, posed with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–FL) at what appears to be Jeanine Pirro’s book signing in late November.

GOP candidate for Congress in South Carolina and founder of Bikers for Trump, Chris Cox, posed with supporters by the lobby’s Christmas tree.

Unsuccessful candidate for U.S. senate and the chair of the Arizona GOP, Kelli Ward (who recently advocated for an electoral college at the state level to stem GOP loses), got in the holiday spirit at the D.C. hotel owned by her party’s leader.

Hannah Salem, a special assistant to the president and director of press advance at the White House, appears to have attended a D.C. police union group’s holiday party at her boss’s hotel on Saturday night.

While staying at the president’s D.C. hotel around the time a federal judge halted his efforts to construct a border wall, the founder of the GoFundMe-supported We Build the Wall, Brian Kolfage, and his wife, influencer Ashley Kolfage, had some decisions to make.

Noted video splicer James O’Keefe of Project Veritas and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin posed together at the Impact Awards, hosted Wednesday at the Trump Hotel D.C. by the wife of a Supreme Court justice, Ginny Thomas. Malkin was honored at this year’s luncheon, while O’Keefe was an award recipient at the 2017 ceremony (also held at the president’s D.C. hotel).

Two weeks ago, 1100 Pennsylvania reported Andrii Telizhenko, the ex Ukrainian diplomat pushing the story that his country interfered in 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s behalf, was at Trump Hotel D.C., sitting near Rudy Giuliani’s usual spot. Last week the two men hung out in Kyiv.


Other Trump Organization news


Reference section

Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.

Trackers

Notable hotel customers

Summaries

Upcoming key dates

  • Sept. 23—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)

  • Nov. 4—House Transportation Committee chair’s subpoena deadline seeking documents related to hotel’s lease (response came a week late and was deemed insufficient)

  • Dec. 8—Attorney General William Barr’s $30,000 private holiday party (rescheduled to unknown date)

  • Dec. 11—Deadline for Trump to file his appeal to the Supreme Court of lower courts’ rulings declining to block House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees’ subpoenas for financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One

  • Dec. 12—Oral arguments before full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. and Maryland attorneys general’s emoluments suit

  • Jan. 23—Status hearing with D.C. Superior Court in former hotel employees’ lawsuit alleging racial discrimination

  • Jan. 25—Diamond and Silk’s “Say yes to LIFE Pro-Life brunch” to benefit their nonprofit, S.I.S.T.A.S. (Stepping into Self Truth Awareness and Success)


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Hotel's revenue from Army ball exceeded $26,000

Army’s Old Guard committed to paying Trump Hotel D.C. at least $26,000, just for food and beverage, per contract released through FOIA

The commander-in-chief’s D.C. hotel received more than $26,000 for hosting an Army battalion’s annual ball last winter, according to a contract the Army recently released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request 1100 Pennsylvania filed. Ticket sales and fundraisers paid for the event, not government funds, according to an Army spokesperson.

The Army’s 3rd U.S. infantry regiment’s fourth battalion, nicknamed The Old Guard, threw its warrior battalion ball at the Trump Hotel D.C. on Feb. 7, 2019 as 1100 Pennsylvania reported at the time. In November 2018, a representative for the battalion signed a contract with the hotel, committing to “a Food and Beverage minimum revenue of $26,000.” That figure does not include numerous other costs the ball would have incurred, including valet parking (the only option at the hotel), a banquet event charge, at least four bartenders and two coat-check attendants, menu cards, and a service charge. Additionally, at least six more guests attended the ball than the 350 the contract stipulated.

According to an estimate the Trump Hotel D.C. had provided the battalion in September 2018 (also released via FOIA), its service charge is 24 percent of the food and beverage subtotal—which would bring the president’s hotel an additional $6,240 on top of the $26,000 minimum revenue.

President Trump, of course, still owns the hotel and receives revenue from it—meaning money from soldiers in the U.S. Army reached the top of the military’s chain of command.

As for the actual amount the hotel received for hosting the Army battalion, Paul V. DeAgostino, a senior counsel at the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, wrote that a reasonable search for receipts for the event “failed to yield responsive records.” 1100 Pennsylvania had requested that information via FOIA and has appealed that response (along with the redactions pertaining to the hotel’s charges).

Two professional event planners who reviewed the contract for 1100 Pennsylvania said the costs sounded competitive. According to the contract, the ball included a one-hour reception and 2.5-hour dinner with a guest count of 350.

In February, the director of communications for the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, Maj. Stephen Von Jett said taxpayer money was not used to pay for the event.

“There were no government funds spent, no appropriated funds spent on this,” Von Jett said. “It was funded through ticket sales and fundraisers that some of the soldiers did internally, down at the company level.” Von Jett said 356 tickets were sold, which, per the event’s invite, cost $80 each (a total of $28,480).

Yet Eli Lee of government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which also received the contract via its own FOIA request, noted that government money may have been used for the deposits:

The contract shows that two initial deposits were paid by the regiment to the hotel prior to January 9, the day that ticket sales for the event began. So apparently the battalion put up government funds for the event before being reimbursed via ticket sales and private fundraisers.

Soldiers attending the ball ranged from battalion’s commander at the time, LTC Jeffery Burroughs, to its most-junior members, Von Jett said. According to Burroughs, as conveyed through Von Jett, the battalion selected the Trump Hotel D.C. for the venue because it was “the nicest one that they looked at” and had a competitive price. The hotel’s initial estimate to hold the ball was $48,790, comprising a three-course plated meal for 500, rental of the presidential ballroom, seven bartenders working three hours each, taxes, and service charges.

Nicknamed The Old Guard, the Army’s 3rd U.S. infantry regiment’s fourth battalion “conducts memorial affairs to honor our fallen comrades, and ceremonies and special events to represent the Army,” per its website. It’s best known for guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The fourth battalion is headquartered at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R–AR) was the ball’s guest speaker.


Political appointees celebrated themselves at their patron’s hotel with a non-profit funded in part by a pro-Trump dark money group

On Nov. 21, political appointees of President Donald Trump gathered in the Trump Hotel D.C.’s presidential ballroom to connect and celebrate their “continued dedication and service,” according to an invite obtained by 1100 Pennsylvania. The cocktail reception’s host, a non-profit funded at least in part by a dark money group and the Republican National Committee, has not replied to inquiries asking who paid for this event.

According to the invite, The 45 Alliance—a new non-profit, social-welfare organization “established to support Executive Branch appointees during your public service”—hosted the gathering. The alliance received $150,000 for “issue support” from pro-Trump non-profit America First Policies per the dark money group’s tax returns, as Open Secrets’ Anna Massoglia reported last month.

And Federal Election Commission filings show that in December 2018, the Republican National Committee donated $75,000 to The 45 Alliance. (It’s the only reported disbursement to the alliance in the FEC’s data.)

According to its website and incorporation filings, The 45 Alliance’s president is Jamie Burke, Trump’s director for transition personnel who currently heads her own government-relations firm. One of the alliance’s two listed board members is former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and current partner at a consulting group focused on “public policy and government relations,” Rick Dearborn. Josh Pitcock, a former chief of staff for Vice President Pence who’s now the vice president of government relations for Oracle, is the other board member mentioned.

None of the three leaders of The 45 Alliance replied to inquiries asking about who paid for this cocktail reception and why the Trump Hotel D.C. was chosen to host it.

Also, per a person with knowledge of the event, it was this gathering that HUD Secretary Ben Carson was addressing in a photo 1100 Pennsylvania shared on Nov. 22.


Hyde-Smith became 29th GOP Senator to support president’s hotel by spending campaign funds or appearing there

On Nov. 18, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R–MS) attended a reception at the Trump Hotel D.C. in connection with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. It marked the first time Hyde-Smith has been spotted at the head of the executive branch’s D.C. hotel. Now 29 of 53 GOP Senators—55 percent—have supported the Trump Hotel D.C. by appearing or spending campaign funds there.

1100 Pennsylvania, which first learned of the event from a tip, was able to verify Hyde-Smith’s location as four picture frames, a mirror, and the reflection in that mirror in her photo match that of a promotional picture of the Lincoln Library from the Trump Hotel D.C.’s website.

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), who also attended the event, provided additional proof of its location via a photo he posted to Instagram. A portrait of Abraham Lincoln and the windows over the door in his picture match that of another promotional photo from the hotel’s website.

According to the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s website, more than 100 farmers from that state visited D.C. Nov. 18–20 for its annual fly-in. The farmers were scheduled to push their cause to three federal agencies, the state’s congressional delegation, and representatives from the European Union and the Taiwanese government.


Former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf visited Trump Dubai

A former president of Pakistan, retired four-star general Pervez Musharraf, made the rounds at the Trump Dubai clubhouse recently. Musharraf, who’s been living in exile in Dubai since 2016, is currently on trial in absentia for high treason in his home country.


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Other notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

Sandwiched around a Thanksgiving trip to Afghanistan to visit the troops, Trump spent the break at his Mar-a-Lago resort. He also golfed at his Palm Beach course three times, according to the White House press pool. The U.S. president enjoyed time with both his family and his customers (who included PGA tour player Bryson DeChambeau). Trump golfed Friday with Rush Limbaugh and Jack Nicklaus according to Politico Playbook.

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner attended Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro’s private book signing at the Trump Hotel D.C. in late November.

Robert Hyde, a lobbyist running for Congress in Connecticut as a Republican, shared another photo of himself at a Trump business, this time posing with the managing director of the U.S. president’s D.C. hotel, Mickael Damelincourt. For more on Hyde, check out “CT congressional candidate in Trump’s inner circle—or is he?” by Emily Munson for The Connecticut Post.

U.S. Marine Greg Aselbekian shared photos of him posing with both his commander-in-chief and the first lady at the former’s D.C. hotel.

Kazakh banker Timur Issatayev dined at the U.S. president’s hotel in May.

Senior advisor to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign Kimberly Guilfoyle and businessman walled off from his father’s administration Donald Trump Jr. totally made out at the latter’s book signing. The smooch occurred mid-November at the D.C. hotel Don Jr. co-owns with the U.S. president.

The chief deputy district attorney in Lawrence, Kansas, Dan Dunbar, stayed at the U.S. president’s D.C. hotel.


Other Trump Organization news


Reference section

Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.

Trackers

Notable hotel customers

Summaries

Upcoming key dates

  • Sept. 23—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)

  • Nov. 4—House Transportation Committee chair’s subpoena deadline seeking documents related to hotel’s lease (response came a week late and was deemed insufficient)

  • Dec. 5—Deadline for Trump to file his appeal to the Supreme Court of lower courts’ rulings requiring his accounting firm to turn over his financial records to the House Oversight and Reform Committee

  • Dec. 7—D.C. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1’s holiday party at the Trump Hotel D.C.

  • Dec. 8—Attorney General William Barr’s $30,000 private holiday party

  • Dec. 9—Oral arguments before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Democratic lawmakers emoluments suit

  • Dec. 12—Oral arguments before full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. and Maryland attorneys general’s emoluments suit

  • Jan. 23—Status hearing with D.C. Superior Court in former hotel employees’ lawsuit alleging racial discrimination

  • Jan. 25—Diamond and Silk’s “Say yes to LIFE Pro-Life brunch” to benefit their nonprofit, S.I.S.T.A.S. (Stepping into Self Truth Awareness and Success)


Thanks for reading! If you like what you’ve read, tell someone. If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, subscribe at 1100pennsylvania.substack.com. Questions? Read our FAQ. Tips or feedback? Contact Zach Everson at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com (it’ll be encrypted if you also use a ProtonMail account, which is free) or via Signal (secure), SMS, or mobile at 202.804.2744.

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