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NEW YORK (AP) — Amid scrutiny over Donald Trump’s use of the public lobby in his namesake Manhattan skyscraper, a post-primary news conference Tuesday was moved from Trump Tower to a golf course he owns north of New York City.
The late change of venue to the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Westchester came a week after city building regulators announced they were investigating a complaint that Trump Tower’s soaring marble atrium was improperly closed to the public during a news conference for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Asked if the shift had anything to do with the inquiry, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Tuesday that the campaign frequently changes venues.
At issue is an unusual agreement Trump struck with the city some 30 years ago giving him special zoning rights to make his building bigger in exchange for making the atrium lobby a public space, open daily to anyone from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Trump has regularly used the lobby, complete with a multi-story water wall, for celebratory campaign events, memorably riding down the elevator of the atrium a year ago before announcing his candidacy for president.
While Trump officials have insisted the space remained open for the May 31 news conference, an Associated Press reporter observed visitors being turned away hours ahead of the event.
Under city rules governing such public spaces, the property owner is allowed to close the space for private use four times a year after first receiving permission. City planning and buildings officials in Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration say they can find no record of Trump seeking such permission.
Buildings Department spokesman Joe Soldevere said the investigation is ongoing.
Trump is not the only candidate who will be in the New York area to watch the results of primaries in six states. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s post-primary event was being held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
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