Wine bar sues President Trump over unfair competition

Wine Cork Bar takes Trump Hotel to court

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - See you in court. That's the message from the owners of a popular D.C. wine bar to President Trump, and his hotel downtown.

The issue? The controversial connection between the President -- and the property.

The owners of Cork Wine Bar say government business used to be a big part of their bottom line, but now that Trump has moved into town, as president and brand name, it's cutting into their profits.

RELATED: Wine bar owners sue President Trump

“I think that it is corrupting our system,” said Cork Wine Bar Co-Owner Khalid Pitts, “that some foreign dignitaries and lobbyists and international business individuals see that by staying at the trump hotel and going to the restaurant, they will curry favor with this president." 

Since Pitts announced plans to sue, he’s been bombarded with backlash, good and bad. 

“To be honest it feels a little crazy and a little scary. We did this because we thought it was the right thing to do. Around justice- particularly around fairness especially for small businesses.”

The lawsuit in DC Superior Court alleges unfair competition against Trump personally and The Trump Old Post Office LLC. Pitts says the president is breaking the terms of the lease on the hotel property by holding public office.

Eric Sanchez heard about the suit and used social media to get people out to the bar Friday to show support.

“I think it's a conflict of interest for the president of the United States to say that there are businesses where he feels comfortable frequenting,” he said. “He understands that this is going to drive up business for him, while he sits as the highest-ranking chief”

Emily Foeke was also there to support for the bar owners.

“We think it's really unfair that Trump is basically using his hotel to build up his business”, she said.

All the lawyers on the case are working pro-bono.The bar owners aren't asking for money.   They want Trump to step away from the business.

“Our goal is to win this, we didn't bring it just to bring it" said Diane Gross, Cork Wine Bar Co-Owner. "We definitely want the end game, which is for him to divest himself of the hotel, take his name off the hotel, and for him not to be gaining financially from its operation."

The White House isn't commenting on the lawsuit. But the Trump Organization has dismissed it, calling it a wild publicity stunt, completely lacking in legal merit. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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