The projection was the work of local street artist Robin Bell.
"We had a couple great moments. A tour bus pulled up, people started clapping and taking photos," Bell told the Daily News. "Everyone on the street, except for the security guard, seemed really happy." That same security guard blocked the projector with his body, putting a stop to Bell's performance.
'Pay #Trump bribes here' sign projected onto #Trump's DC hotel — CNN https://t.co/GMkDXdUXcM pic.twitter.com/CDMLdwsalY— President Trump News (@TrumpInTheNews) May 16, 2017
In addition to "PAY TRUMP BRIBES HERE," Bell also projected the phrase "EMOLUMENTS WELCOME," and the full text of Article I, Section Nine, Clause Eight of the US Constitution, the so-called Foreign Emoluments Clause.
An emolument is a somewhat archaic word for a salary or reimbursement. The Foreign Emoluments Clause reads that no government official may "accept of any present, emolument [compensation], office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state" unless they acquire Congressional approval.
Of course, US presidents accept gifts from foreign leaders all the time, and it would be a waste of time for Congress to grant the president individual permission every time they are offered a present. Presidents often establish blind trusts with third parties to collect gifts offered to them by foreigners.
AMAZING! Here's more of what's being protected onto #TrumpInternationalHotel in DC! #TheResistance #TrumpRussiaCoverUp via @DC_Resister_Bee pic.twitter.com/SAxc034u36— Chet Powell (@ChetPowell) May 16, 2017
There is also some debate as to how much the Emolument Clause applies to the president, as the Constitution usually explicitly names the president and vice president when parts of the Constitution refer to them. President Washington accepted gifts from French officials on at least two occasions. The vagueness of the Constitutional clause and the complexity of modern finances has made the issue of emoluments a lot of hot air: frequently arising, just as frequently forgotten.
In Trump's specific instance, his expansive business empire obviously involves a great deal of money changing hands, and often that money is foreign in origin. Some ethicists believe that foreigners spending money at institutions owned by Trump's family, such as the hotel, is a violation of the Emolument Clause. In March, the federal government ruled that the hotel is not in violation of any laws.
"It's a pretty clear cut example of impropriety," Bell said in a phone interview with CNN. "This is not like politics as usual. The rules and the lines are being pushed so far and this seemed to be so clear to me."
The Trump International Hotel. A place for emoluments. #Russians pic.twitter.com/LghgoYoYTV— Diane N. Sevenay (@Diane_7A) May 16, 2017
Bell claims that this is the fifth time he has projected a message onto Trump International Hotel. For instance, in November 2016, Bell projected "EXPERTS AGREE: TRUMP IS A PIG" above the hotel's entrance.
More recently, in April he projected "100 DAYS OF POLLUTION" on the building's wall to mark Trump's 100th day in office.