Two leaders from Washington state butted heads Tuesday in the other Washington over T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the merger, where he faced tough questions from Rep. Pramila Jayapal. The Congresswoman represents most of Seattle and some surrounding suburbs, where many T-Mobile employees live. The company is based in nearby Bellevue, Wash.
Jayapal raised questions about Legere and other T-Mobile executives who have made a habit of staying at President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel since announcing the Sprint merger. Legere confirmed that T-Mobile executives spent $194,000 at Trump’s hotel since announcing plans to merge with Sprint in April 2018, a figure previously reported by The Washington Post. The newspaper discovered that T-Mobile executives spent at least 52 nights at the hotel since announcing the Sprint deal.
“We, unfortunately, have a situation where the president has not disclosed his business interests, so when he has a business interest and it appears that you might be trying to influence the president to get involved in something he really should not be involved in, that causes concern for this committee,” Jayapal said.
Following the Post’s reporting, Jayapal and Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to T-Mobile asking for more information about the hotel stays. T-Mobile downplayed the visits in a response letter. The company said spending at the Trump Hotel accounted for 13 percent of the $1.4 million that T-Mobile spent at hotels in Washington, D.C., since last April.
“The decision to stay at the Trump Hotel again was my decision and it was consistent with where I stayed and how I chose hotels in the past,” Legere told Jayapal during the hearing.
But she was unconvinced because of a 2015 Twitter spat between Legere and Trump. The T-Mobile CEO had been staying in one of Trump’s New York hotels and abruptly checked out after trading jabs online. “I am so happy to wake up in a hotel where every single item isn’t labeled Trump,” Legere tweeted.
Trump does not have the authority to approve or reject the merger but his administration does. T-Mobile and Sprint need The Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to sign off on their $26 billion deal before they can combine.
“If you do want this to be judged on the merits of the merger, which I think you want, we would expect that there would be concern around anything that might shed a light of impropriety on the merits of the merger,” Jayapal told Legere Tuesday.