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"Twenty-two million people stand to lose their healthcare and these folks are in there dining on caviar and lobster," said Michael Delvone, D.C. director for the Working Families Party. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

'Flat Out Corrupt': Protests as Trump Headlines Trump Fundraiser at Trump Hotel

"Trump monetizes his office constantly. But tonight's a new low: he's collecting cash from being president, from his hotel, and from his party."

Jake Johnson

With protesters outside chanting "Shame! Shame!" President Donald Trump held the first fundraiser of his 2020 reelection campaign at his international hotel in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday—an event described as a "new low" by one government ethics expert.

"Anytime he profits from the hotel, as he is doing tonight, he is violating the domestic emoluments clause."
—Norm Eisen, former Obama ethics czar

Norm Eisen, former Obama ethics czar and chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), charged in a series of tweets Wednesday night that the $35,000-per-ticket event—from which the press was barred—violated the domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving any compensation beyond the set yearly salary.

"Trump monetizes his office constantly," Eisen wrote. "But tonight's a new low: he's collecting cash from being president, from [his] hotel, and from his party."

Eisen is hardly expressing a minority view. In an appearance on CNN Wednesday night, CREW vice chair Richard Painter called the fundraiser "flat out corrupt."

"This whole thing is disgusting and the American people are going to get fed up with both parties if they don't fix our government and get the corruption out," Painter said.

The event—held 40 months out from the 2020 race, the earliest any president has ever held a reelection fundraiser—was projected to raise as much as $10 million for Trump's reelection campaign and for the Republican National Committee.

As Common Dreams has reported, Trump has already been hit with a number of emoluments lawsuits by watchdog groups and state attorneys general for refusing to disentangle his presidency from his business interests. Wednesday's event is sure to spark further action.

In addition to calling attention to ethics concerns, activists also used the high-profile event to express their anger at Trumpcare, which if passed would take health insurance from 22 million people.

As Trump's motorcade pulled up to the hotel, protesters chanted "Shame!"

"I knew that xenophobia, racism, and misogyny was expected but I didn't know it would cost $35,000 a plate," Michael Delvone, D.C. director for the Working Families Party, told Time. "Twenty-two million people stand to lose their healthcare and these folks are in there dining on caviar and lobster."

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