While serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft directed government business to then-President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, according to internal emails released by the State Department.
In November 2018, Craft received guidance about an upcoming conference in Washington, D.C. for ambassadors and other heads of overseas missions. The message listed five hotels that meeting organizers had negotiated rates with, although attendees were advised they could made alternative arrangements.
Craft forwarded the email to a staffer, asking, “Is this a meeting I should attend? If so, I would prefer the TRUMP HOTEL.” The assistant confirmed that Craft would want to be present at the mid-January 2019 confab and added, “I’ll make reservations at the Trump Intl Hotel.”
The special rates at the competitors of Trump’s D.C. hotel, which included the Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C., ranged from $119 to the government maximum of $181 a night. It’s not clear what the Trump International charged for Craft’s stay.
The State Department released the emails in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by American Oversight, a government watchdog. Craft has not replied to inquiries.
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The emails also reveal that Craft stayed at Trump’s D.C. hotel at least three times in the first half of 2018 while in town on government business.
In January, a staffer emailed Craft a “friendly reminder” to pass along the contact details of the hotel’s manager so the assistant could book a suite for Craft and a single room for a State Department career employee. That April, Craft checked in again, this time while in D.C. for an event hosted by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. And in June, a Department of Commerce official emailed Craft, saying that he’d meet with her at the Trump Hotel to review a briefing book.
“Ambassador Craft’s apparent eagerness to direct business to a Trump-owned hotel sends a signal that U.S. foreign policy is pay-to-play,” said Jack Patterson, a spokesperson for American Oversight, in a statement. “An American diplomat using their position to line the president’s pockets is an example of the casual corruption that permeated the Trump administration and undermines confidence in the United States.”
Trump appointed Craft to be his ambassador to Canada in June 2017. Two years later, he promoted her to represent his administration at the United Nations. According to the emails, after her confirmation hearing for the U.N. post, Craft celebrated with a luncheon at the Trump Hotel.