DC wine bar sues President Trump for unfair competition
A Washington, D.C., bar has filed an unfair competition lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his Trump International Hotel, also located in the nation's capital. Cork Wine Bar alleges that the hotel has an "unfair advantage" due to its connection with Trump and also violates its lease agreement with the federal government.
According to a website dedicated to the case, the suit was filed "for the express purposes of seeking judicial intervention to prevent unfair competition," and to get a court order remedying the issue. "Neither the Plaintiff nor the attorneys are seeking any monetary compensation, and merely want the Court to ensure a level playing field for D.C. businesses," the site reads. Cork Wine Bar is owned by Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross.
Speaking to the Washingtonian, Attorney Scott Rome, a member of the bar's legal team, said Cork Wine Bar's clients, including government officials, lobbyists, and foreign officials, now feel "pressure" or an "obligation" to go to the Trump hotel over their establishment. Cork has experienced a fall in income following Trump's inauguration, he says, adding that every other establishment in the city has become a "second place" for those wanting to do business with the government.
"If they have a party to book, they're going to book it there first, whether to gain influence with the president, [or] to gain influence with the administration," Rome says. "And he shows up there on weekends, so you get personal face time by going there. It seems to us to be a clear situation in which he's using his office of the president to get financial gain at the expense of local businesses.
Further, Cork Wine Bar's lawyers have also cited a clause in the Trump International Hotel's lease that prevents elected officials from "any share of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom." Others have made the argument that Trump violated his lease once taking over the presidency.
President Trump's son, Eric Trump, dubbed the lawsuit "a publicity stunt" during an interview Thursday.
"It's people who have nothing better to do, so they harass and they harass and the [court] will throw it out," he said, as quoted by the Washington Post. "It's ridiculous."
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