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Attorney General Barr books Trump’s D.C. hotel for $31,000 holiday party, sparking ethics concerns

2019-08-27

President Trump and Attorney General William Barr speak at the U.S. Capitol in May. (Evan Vucci / AP)

William Barr has already gotten his boss a Christmas gift.

The U.S. attorney general recently inked a contract to throw a 200-person holiday bash at President Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel — a lavish shindig that is expected to funnel more than $31,000 into Trump’s business coffers, a Justice Department official said Tuesday.

Barr, who has already faced scrutiny for his buddy-buddy relationship with Trump, will bankroll the extravagant event himself, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss non-department affairs.

The official said Barr’s “Family Holiday Party” will take place in the Trump hotel’s Presidential Ballroom on Dec. 8, featuring a four-hour open bar and buffet.

Barr, who’s the nation’s top law enforcement official, only picked the Trump hotel after several other venues, including the Mayflower and the Willard, rejected his requests because of capacity issues, the department insider said.

The source said the AG consulted with internal ethics officials before booking the costly Trump event.

"They determined that ethics rules did not prohibit him from hosting his annual party at the Trump hotel,” the official told the Daily News.

The exact price tag for Barr’s holiday bash wasn’t immediately clear, but his contract requires him to pay at least $31,500 even if he cancels, the official familiar with the matter said.

The Washington Post first reported Barr’s holiday plans.

A spokesman for the Willard declined to comment, citing privacy concerns. The Mayflower did not respond to emailed questions and neither did a Trump Organization spokeswoman.

While the department source tried to downplay the significance of Barr’s Trump-branded holiday party, ethics watchdogs were apoplectic.

“Corruption in plain sight,” the liberal-leaning Public Citizen group tweeted.

American Oversight, a non-partisan good government group, meanwhile, questioned how Justice Department ethics officials could have given the attorney general the green light on throwing the Trump party, as guidelines bar “most federal employees from giving their supervisor gifts with a market value of more than $10.”

“The attorney general is paying the president more than $30,000,” the group tweeted.

Trump refused to divest ownership stake in his namesake company upon taking office, breaking with decades of presidential norms and meaning he stands to personally profit from business at any of his properties across the country.

News of Barr’s Christmas plans came one day after Trump suggested hosting next year’s Group of Seven diplomatic summit at his own financially struggling resort outside Miami — a proposal that also raised eyebrows from ethics experts.

Democrats have accused Barr of improperly protecting Trump by making misleading statements about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible obstructions crimes committed by the president.