The Obama administration said no when T-Mobile tried to merge with Sprint, because having the third- and fourth-biggest cellphone providers merge would mean fewer choices and possibly higher prices for customer. Now T-Mobile is hoping the Trump administration will say yes to the merger, and executives have a special, Trump-specific way of lobbying: They’re staying in Trump’s hotel. They’re not being subtle about it, either.
The day after the planned merger was announced, nine T-Mobile executives, including CEO John Legere, checked into the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reports based on VIP guest lists the hotel handed out to staff. Within seven weeks, one of the executives was there for his tenth stay. Legere had been there at least four times. Using eyewitness accounts and just a dozen days of VIP guest lists obtained from 2018, the Post counted 38 nights of T-Mobile executive stays. T-Mobile has also hired former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as an adviser during the merger.
Legere’s only public comment on his hotel stays is that the Trump hotel had “become a place I feel very comfortable” and had a location convenient to meetings at the Justice Department. But what’s particularly interesting about his and his executives’ sudden devotion to the Trump brand is that in 2015, Legere sparred with Donald Trump on Twitter after criticizing a Trump hotel he had stayed in. When Trump responded by trashing T-Mobile’s service, Legere checked out of the Trump hotel and then tweeted “I am so happy to wake up in a hotel where every single item isn’t labeled ‘Trump,’” Yet somehow three years later he’d become “very comfortable” in Trump’s hotel and had extended that loyalty to his executives. Just at the very moment his company needed something from the Trump administration. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to crack that one.
T-Mobile isn’t alone in trying to curry favor with Trump by staying in his hotel, of course. Most eye-poppingly, “Lobbyists working for the Saudi government — a close U.S. ally that has grown closer under Trump — paid for 500 hotel rooms in the first four months after Trump was elected.” Moves like that may be why, while the Trump business overall isn’t doing so hot, the Washington hotel is a bright spot.
How convenient that Trump’s nominee for attorney general claims not to know what the emoluments clause is.