Kathryn Watson, DCNF
Trump International Hotel will host the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, reversing its previous cancelation of its contract to accommodate the Jan. 20 event, according to organizer Merrie Turner.
The hotel reinstated its contract with Turner Saturday, the day after the organizer and her lawyer filed a $1 million lawsuit against the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) in U.S. Superior Court for the District of Columbia for interfering with a contract.
Turner filed the suit against the committee, not the Washington, D.C., hotel, because she believes the PIC pressured the hotel in December to cancel the contract she secured in September.
“I think there are elements that we’ll never know for sure,” Turner told The Daily Caller News Foundation, saying there was “collusion” between the hotel and the committee to force the event to be moved elsewhere.
Turner said the hotel, which cited security concerns Dec. 28 when it canceled the contract, told her Friday night President-elect Donald Trump wouldn’t be staying at the hotel the night of Inauguration Day as initially thought, lifting the need for the hotel to be on lockdown.
But Turner, who said the disruption has cost time and resources, is not withdrawing her lawsuit against the inaugural committee.
The “PIC (Presidential Inaugural Committee), by and through its agents, servants and employees, intentionally induced the Trump Hotel to breach its contract with Turner and, in doing so, acted with legal malice aforethought,” the complaint reads. “PIC thereby tortiously interfered with the contract between Turner and the Trump Hotel.”
Michael Hoehn, Turner’s lawyer, told TheDCNF that “we do have some additional damages that have not been addressed as a result of — as you know, the contract was terminated. It was breached and the Trump Hotel has agreed to reinstate the contract, but Ms. Turner has suffered some cancelations, she’s had some additional cost involved and she’s suffered some considerable embarrassment and emotional anguish.”
Neither the hotel nor the PIC responded to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.
Turner claims PIC’s Rick Gates asked her to move the event elsewhere the day before the hotel canceled the contract.
Turner said the hotel canceled the event because it was inconvenient for the PIC and the hotel, as the event would have been “sandwiched” between a committee gala the evening before and Trump staying at the hotel the night of Inauguration Day, requiring extra security and decor changes.
“What Mr. Gates said was they did not want to change, to have to take down, all their official decorations from the night before and then set it up again,” Turner told TheDCNF.
The hotel needed to cancel any surrounding events to invoke the unforeseen circumstances clause it used to cancel the event, and it did not, Turner said.
Turner had paid $31,000 in deposits when the hotel canceled the contract. TheDCNF obtained a copy of the letter canceling the contract.
The non-partisan, inter-denominational prayer breakfast dates back to 1993 when the event’s original host Ruth Ward Heflin gathered government officials, pastors and people of faith on Inauguration Day to pray for the presidency and ask for a spiritual outpouring on the country, the event’s website says.
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