And, no, this is not normal (boldface mine):
First came Kuwait. Then Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Now it’s the Philippines’ turn.
It is the latest foreign government to book rooms or host events at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., riling critics who say such bookings are nothing more than attempts to curry favor with President Donald Trump.
The Philippine Independence Day celebration set for June 12 comes as the country pushes for a free-trade agreement with the U.S. and amid international criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte for encouraging vigilante killings of drug suspects.
“The Trump hotel may have some political undertones because it is associated with the U.S. president,” Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to the U.S., wrote in a column in The Philippine Star newspaper earlier this week. “But since several other embassies have also held their national day celebrations at the Trump hotel which were well attended — I decided — why not do it there, too.”
…“The Philippines has found a way to pay tribute to our president,” said Kathleen Clark, a government ethics lawyer and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “What’s at risk is our foreign policy, that it will be influenced not by what matters — human rights, civil rights or legitimate economic interests — but by the Philippines’ ability to get in the good graces of our president.”
Coincidentally, the party comes a day after the next scheduled hearing in the federal court “emoluments” lawsuit by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. They are accusing Trump of accepting unconstitutional gifts from foreign interests, specifically by throwing events and booking rooms at the Trump Washington hotel. Such bookings are tantamount to bribes, the plaintiffs argue, because Trump’s refusal to divest himself from his businesses means the money paid for rooms, meeting spaces, food and drinks eventually finds its way into his pocket.
This is not normal. It is, however, impeachable. And now would also be an excellent time for Il Trumpe to release his tax returns.