Trump hotel liquor license still in jeopardy after board greenlights ‘good character’ clause hearing

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. … Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., is at risk of losing its liquor license due to a complaint filed by a group of citizens claiming owner Donald Trump does not meet the requisite “good character” clause in the local statute.

The pertinent D.C. law states that liquor license applicants must be of “good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure.” The group in its complaint stated, “Donald Trump, the true and actual owner of the Trump International Hotel, is not a person of good character.”

The complaint cited “certain lies he has told, his involvement in relevant fraudulent and other activity demonstrating his lack of integrity, and his refusal to abide by the law or to stop associating with known criminals.”

Most reasonable readers would assume the frivolous political gamesmanship at work here would be quickly dismissed, however the district’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board has denied motions by attorneys for the hotel to reject the case. As a result, their ruling opens the door for a move to mediation or, failing that, a hearing before the board.

“We’re excited that we’re closer to a hearing on the merits,” said attorney Joshua Levy, who is representing the group of protesters, as reported by the Post. “The ruling is a victory for the rule of law,” Levy said. “The board correctly rejected Trump’s attempt to silence the public and be held above the law. In the District of Columbia, no one is above the law.”

The liquor license challenge was originally filed in July of 2018 but was denied due to the fact that the license was already issued at that point. It is now up for renewal and vulnerable to public challenges. Last year, the plaintiffs in that initial challenge included:

  • Joan Goldfrank, retired magistrate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
  • Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., inactive senior U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia
  • Rev. William Lamar IV, senior pastor at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
  • Rev. Jennifer Butler, founding executive director of Faith in Public Life and the former chair of the White House Council on Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships
  • Rev. Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie, Baptist preacher
  • Rabbi Jack Moline, Conservative Jewish rabbi
  • Rabbi Aaron Potek, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi

“In order to renew a Retailer’s Class CH License, the Applicant is obligated to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board that the ownership ‘is of good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure,'” reads the ABC Board order, signifying that the challenge to this point is on track for official consideration.

The next step is for the petitioning group’s addresses to be provided to the hotel’s attorneys so as to have a “fair opportunity to challenge the validity of the petition.” Petitioners must be verified residents of the District of Columbia.

The ruling is “nothing more than politics at its worst,” according to a statement by the Trump Organization. “All individuals engaged in this charade should be ashamed of the manipulative use of a public agency for purely political ends.”


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Victor Rantala


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