John Alfonso holds a black-and-white American flag during a protest at Trump International Hotel in Washington on Jan. 29. It's been the scene of multiple protests, as Trump continues to use the venue.

President Trump, who is fond of dining at his Trump International Hotel near the White House, will have some company Wednesday — a roomful of people who paid as much as $35,000 or $100,000 each to be there.

The money will go to two joint fundraising operations — Trump Victory, which will take in large donations and Trump Make America Great Again Committee for smaller-dollar donors.

When Trump Victory started sending out invitations four weeks ago, it announced the price points, but kept the venue secret until a prospect had RSVP’d.

“There’s nothing flat-out illegal about it, but it’s pay-to-play,” said Richard Painter, former White House ethics counsel in the George W. Bush administration and a critic of Trump’s ethical standards. “The appearances are terrible.”

Trump has merged two problems — first, Painter points to the usual Washington practice of powerful officeholders selling access to big donors; and second, the new opportunity for interest groups to steer cash to his businesses.

The fundraiser is emblematic of the way Trump has seemed to close a circle of politics, money and influence unlike any past president. During the campaign, some of Trump’s companies did business with his campaign. It paid $8.7 million, for example, to TAG Air (the Trump company that owns most of his airplanes) and $2 million to Trump Tower, the building where he housed the campaign headquarters. His private club…