For some QAnon conspiracy theorists, March 4, 2021 is a date circled in red Sharpie on the calendar. The truly devoted believe that, on this special date, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 19th president of the United States.
The theory borrows from the sovereign citizens movement, which espouses that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the U.S. into a corporation and ended the American government put in place by the founding fathers. Accordingly, the true inauguration date was not January 20, as the rest of the world believes. The conspiracy theorists contend that the real inauguration will happen on March 4, the date on which presidents were sworn in prior to the 1933 passage of the 20th amendment. Still following? QAnon followers believe that Trump will return to power on March 4 as the 19th president of the United States. The last true president, the theory goes, was Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president, who was in office in 1871 when the United States turned into a corporation. Got it?
“Some QAnon followers are borrowing discredited arguments from sovereign citizens in order to yet again move the goalposts,” Travis Week, co-host of the conspiracy-debunking podcast QAnon Anonymous, explained via tweet, “They’re absurdly claiming Trump will be inaugurated on March 4, because the U.S. was ‘incorporated’ in 1871 and all Amendments passed after that are invalid.”
At the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, the least expensive room option is the deluxe king, ranging in size from 350 to 475 square feet. At this time of year, it normally runs anywhere from $476 to $596 per night.
Interestingly, on March 3 and 4, the same room is selling for $1,331 per night. That’s 180% above the base rate and more than double what you’d pay any other night in February or March, according to the hotel’s website.
The March 4 rate hike appears to be exclusive to the Trump International, notes Zach Everson in his 1100 Pennsylvania newsletter, which has diligently tracked the comings and goings at Trump International since the early days of Trump’s presidency. When Everson surveyed other DC luxury hotels — Four Seasons, Hay Adams, and St. Regis — he found that those hotels’ rates remain close to the norm on March 3 and 4.
“Without insight from the secretive and privately held Trump Organization, it’s impossible to definitively attribute a price change,” wrote Everson.
Whether you call it price gauging or simply opportunistic marketing, big rate hikes make sense on several levels. For starters, the hotel may be leveraging its appeal with QAnon followers to bring in more money during these tough pandemic times. After all, last year’s revenue was down 62% at the Trump International, according to Donald Trump’s final financial disclosure report, which lists “hotel related revenue” of $15.1 million, significantly less than the $40.5 million reported the previous year.
Trump has often been accused of wielding his politcal power with an eye for self-dealing. His D.C. hotel, just blocks away from the White House, has been a favorite venue for Republican events, raking in $3.2 million from political groups since Trump announced his presidential campaign in 2015. And when you add in Mar-a-Lago, Trump Doral and other Trump properties, that figure soars to $23 million earned off of political events since 2015.
The Trump International has a history of hiking prices around dates that are important to supporters of the former president. Consider that, just last month, on January 5 and 6, the lowest available room rates at Trump International topped $7,500 and $8,000 a night, respectively. That’s more than triple the $2,200 nightly rate the hotel was charging during the inauguration period a few weeks later.
Aside from revenue gains from jacked-up rates, these special dates can do wonders for the hotel’s ancillary revenue streams. To wit: The day after the pro-Trump mob rioted at the U.S. Capitol, the managing director of Trump International Hotel tweeted, “So proud of our @TrumpDC In Room Dining Team for record breaking numbers this week.”
A spokesperson for the Trump International Hotel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.