BREAKING: Judge denies Trumps’ request to quash subpoenas to banks
From “Judge says Deutsche Bank, Capital One can give Trump financial records to House Democrats” by Kevin Breuninger for CNBC:
A federal judge in New York City on Wednesday said Deutsche Bank and Capitol One can turn over financial documents related to President Donald Trump and his businesses in response to subpoenas from House Democrats.
Judge Edgardo Ramos’s ruling came after a hearing at which lawyers for Trump, his three older children, Donald Jr. Eric and Ivanka, and the Trump Organization argued that the subpoenas to the two banks should be quashed.
Former Polish coal miner to keynote Heartland Institute’s meeting on ‘best science, winning energies’
The Heartland Institute, a think tank that opposes mainstream climate-change science, will hold a conference on climate change at the Trump Hotel D.C. in July.
In 2015, the Heartland Institute declared, “The Global Warming Crisis Is Over.” And the group’s action plan for President Trump, published in November 2016 and still cited on its website as reflecting the institute’s current views, reflects the priorities of climate-change deniers: approving pipelines, withdrawing from climate-change treaties, replacing the EPA and rolling back its regulations, and reducing funding for climate-change research.
In 2012, Suzanne Goldberg reported for The Guardian that, “a foundation connected to the oil billionaire Charles Koch had returned as a donor [to Heartland] after a lengthy hiatus with a gift of $200,000 in 2011.”
The keynote speaker will be Dominik Kolorz, a former coal miner and currently a regional president for the Polish coal-mining union Solidarity. Other speakers announced so far are members of the Heartland Institute itself, representatives from other conservative think tanks, and a couple of academics. The event’s website does not specify if any government officials will address the gathering, but it does say more speakers should be added.
Report: Trump heading to Ireland, then France—and then back to Ireland so he can golf at Doonbeg
After meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on June 5, according to William Dunne for The Irish Daily Mirror, President Trump will head to France for D-Day commemorations. But then Trump will fly back to Ireland for two days of golf at his Doonbeg course.
This morning S.V. Date of HuffPost reported “Trump’s golf costs: $102 million and counting, with taxpayers picking up the tab.”
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Tonight: President Trump to address pro-Trump super PAC at Trump Hotel D.C.
From the president’s schedule for today:
The event is for America First Action, reported Jeremy Diamond of CNN. Earlier this month, the Trump campaign declared that super PAC the only “approved outside non-campaign group.” It’s already spent $448,783.80 at the Trump Hotel D.C.
Also, it seems likely the hotel will do a good business tonight (and not just because its cheese night). In January, when the president was at his hotel for another fundraiser and dinner, a representative of the political wing for Kurdish fighters in Syria had the opportunity to pitch her group’s cause.
“Don’t worry, I love the Kurds,” President Trump reportedly told her.
President promoted Trump Hotel D.C.’s speaker’s book
Yesterday President Trump tweeted praise for conservative radio host Mark Levin’s new book, Unfreedom of the Press. Levin has been a featured speaker for at least two events at the Trump Hotel D.C.
Earlier this month Levin addressed a lunch honoring a U.S. attorney general under President Reagan, Ed Meese. And in September 2018, Levin gave a speech to Hillsdale College’s Constitution Day celebrants titled, The Mueller Investigation and the Constitution.
Levin also posed for a photo recently in the hotel lobby with avant-garde prankster, Jacob Wohl.
New York draws closer to making Trump’s state tax returns available to Congress
From “New York passes bill giving Congress a way to get Trump’s state tax returns” by Jesse McKinley for The New York Times:
On Wednesday, the Democratic-led Legislature passed a bill that would permit New York State tax official to hand over Mr. Trump’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees. Such returns—filed in New York, the president’s home state and business headquarters—would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns.
The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat and regular critic of Mr. Trump’s policies and behavior.
A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most of the people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.
From this morning’s Politico Playbook:
Playbook SPOTTED at dinner at BLT at the Trump Hotel: U.S. Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), [incoming assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department] Monica Crowley, [outgoing assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department] Tony Sayegh, [cybersecurity advisor to the president] Joshua Steinman and Kash Patel.
A policy advisor for pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies and chair of Vote America First, Martha Boneta wanted you to know she loves Trump Chicago.
Puerto Rico’s former secretary of health Iván González Cancel was a rare Democrat spotted at the Republican president’s D.C. hotel.
Political consultant Allison Blair of PsyberSolutions introduced a friend to the amazing bacon.
The president of lobbying firm the Da Vinci Group, Mark Smith, a Trump Hotel D.C. regular, was tanned, rested, and ready.
Other Trump Organization news
“Confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless president invokes executive privilege” by Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey for The Washington Post
“Deutsche Bank says software to detect money laundering had a bug” by Jack Ewing for The New York Times
“In an odd move, Trump shifts his banking business to a small firm in Florida” by Russ Choma for Mother Jones
“House Judiciary Committee subpoenas Hope Hicks” by Zachary Basu for Axios
Trump Org EVP “Donald Trump Jr.. has signed a book deal with Center Street Books, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group, for a book ‘that will focus on politics, current events and the future of the MAGA movement,’ according to a source close to him,” per this morning’s Politico Playbook. Book topics not mentioned: hotels, golf courses, real estate, and licensing deals. Don Jr., of course, is supposed to be walled off from his father’s administration. At 10:04 a.m. today, White House staffer Ivanka Trump, who is on leave from the family business, promoted her brother’s book.
“The Interior Department has for about a year allowed political appointees to weigh in on which federal records are released to the public, creating delays that could violate open records law and expose the department to legal action…Department correspondence obtained by CQ Roll Call show that some of the requests put through this process were for communications with Zinke’s wife and records related to the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, now a hotel leased to President Donald Trump’s company.” By Jacob Holzman and Benjamin J. Hulac for Roll Call.
“In China, a flourishing industry claims to sell access to President Trump” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Anu Narayanswamy, and Lyric Li for The Washington Post
“Justice Department staff had urged rejection of Sprint-T-Mobile merger” by Tony Romm for The Washington Post
Terrena Resort wants you to know it has no connection to President Trump or the Trump Organization.
President Trump chose not to divest; Americans need to know who’s paying him
Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump did not divest his businesses upon becoming U.S. president. Think that may be a problem? Become an 1100 Pennsylvania member, and support reporting on who’s spending money at the president’s businesses—and what they may be getting in return. Memberships are this newsletter’s sole source of revenue. Select the red “Subscribe now” button and become a member by paying just $5 a month or $50 a year. Thank you.
House investigations, current status (latest change, May 22, 2019)
UPDATED Financial Services
The committee sent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank on Jan. 24. On March 1, chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D–CA) said the bank is cooperating with her committee and that staffers from the panel have met with bank employees in New York. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Deutsche Bank reportedly has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. But judge Edgardo Ramos declined to issue that injunction on May 22, saying that the financial institutions can comply with the lawmakers’ request.
Chair Rep. Elliot Engel (D–NY) “plans to investigate whether President Donald Trump’s businesses are driving foreign policy decisions, including whether Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution in the process” per CNN on Jan. 23.
On March 4, the committee “served document requests to 81 agencies, entities, and individuals believed to have information relevant to the investigation,” according to a statement by the panel. Among the individuals the committee requested documents from are Trump Organization EVPs Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, EVP and COO Michael Calamari, CFO Alan Weisselberg, EVP and chief legal officer Alan Garten, Trump tax attorney Sherri Dillon, longtime Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff, former Trump advisor Felix Sater, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and Trump associate and inaugural chair Tom Barrack. The committee received “tens of thousands” of documents by the March 18 deadline the letters set for responses, according to its chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–NY). Among the respondents: Barrack, Steve Bannon, and the National Rifle Association. But more than half of the targets had not replied by April 3, two weeks after the deadline. On that day, the committee authorized subpoenas for former White House aides Bannon, Ann Donaldson, Hope Hicks, Donald McGahn, and Reince Priebus, per Politico. And on May 21, the committee did in fact subpoena Hicks and Donaldson. Attorneys for the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump did not respond to Politico’s inquires if their clients planned to reply. The committee is considering making additional document requests, including to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
The committee interviewed Felix Sater on March 21.
On Feb. 6, chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D–CA) issued a statement that said his committee would investigate links or coordination between the Russian government/related foreign actors and individuals associated with Trump’s businesses, as well as if foreign actors sought to compromise or hold leverage over Trump’s businesses.
On Feb. 10, Schiff said the committee would investigate Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, a major lender to the Trump Organization. Earlier, on Jan. 24, the committee sent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank. On Feb. 28, an aide said the panel expects to interview Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
During testimony on March 6, Michael Cohen turned over documents that allegedly show how Trump’s then-personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, edited Cohen’s statement regarding Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen later read this revised statement before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. In closed-door testimony in March, Cohen claimed the president submitted a false insurance claim regarding a fresco in Trump Tower. Felix Sater, who was connected to the Trump Moscow project, was scheduled to testify in an open hearing on March 27, but that has been postponed.
Schiff hired a veteran prosecutor experienced with combating Russian organized crime to lead this investigation.
The committee is also seeking to interview Trump inauguration organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.
On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Schiff said Deutsche Bank has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. But judge Edgardo Ramos declined to issue that injunction on May 22, saying that the financial institutions can comply with the lawmakers’ request.
UPDATED Oversight and Reform
Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings’s (D–MD) staff “has already sent out 51 letters to government officials, the White House, and the Trump Organization asking for documents related to investigations that the committee may launch,” on Jan. 13. In a Feb. 15 letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings said the committee received documents showing White House attorney Stefan Passantino and long-time Trump personal attorney Sheri Dillon provided “false information” to the Office of Government Ethics regarding Michael Cohen’s “hush-money payments.” As a result, Cummings wants to depose Passantino and Dillon; the White House, however, rejected Cummings’ request to interview Passantino. And on Feb. 27, Cohen testified to the committee about those payments and other Trump Organization business practices, which could lead to allegations of possible insurance fraud. The next day, House Democrats signaled they would seek testimony from Trump Organization officials whom Cohen alleged were implicated, including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and CFO Allen Weisselberg.
On March 6, Cummings requested information from the GSA about its reversal of an earlier decision to relocate FBI headquarters, which is located across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. And on April 12 Cummings wrote to the GSA again, this time requesting all monthly reports from the Trump Hotel D.C., information about any liens on the hotel, a slew of correspondence between the Trump Org and GSA, and legal opinions regarding the Trump Org’s compliance with the lease. Cummings gave an April 26 deadline; staffers for the committee and Cummings have not replied to inquiries asking if GSA replied and to what extent.
The committee also has requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records. And on March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 12, Cummings notified committee members that he plans to subpoena Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for his financial statements. President Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Hotel D.C. sued Cummings and Mazars USA on April 22 in an attempt to prevent the release of Trump’s financial records. Cummings postponed the subpoenas’ deadline while the courts address the president’s suit. On May 20, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta denied the president’s motion. Trump appealed the next day. But without further relief, Mazars could start turning over documents as soon as next week.
Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
Transportation committee chair Rep. Peter DeFazio (D–OR) and subcommittee chair Dina Titus (D–NV) sent a letter to GSA administrator Emily Murphy on Jan. 22 asking for all communication between the GSA and members of the Trump family dating back to 2015, an explanation of how the D.C. hotel calculates its profits, profit statements since the hotel opened, any guidance from the White House regarding the lease, and whether or not Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are recused from participating in decisions regarding the property. GSA has “sent a partial response and the subcommittee is reviewing it,” according to a senior House staffer familiar with the situation. When hearings begin, it is likely that Murphy will be the first person called to testify, according to a person familiar with the subcommittee’s plans. Titus is hiring additional staffers to handle the investigation.
On March 6, Titus requested information from the GSA about its reversal of an earlier decision to relocate the FBI headquarters, which is located across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. NPR reported on March 15 that, “Democrats on the committee want to know, among other things, whether there was any political pressure exerted on the GSA by the Trump White House, presidential campaign or transition team. They also want to know how the Trump Hotel calculates its profits, segregates incoming money from foreign governments, and what the Trump Organization owes the GSA on a monthly or annual basis.’”
Ways and Means
On April 3, chairman Richard Neal (D–MA) requested six years of Trump’s personal tax returns, as well as the returns for eight of his businesses (including that of the trust that holds the president’s ownership stake in the D.C. hotel). After the IRS missed Neal’s deadline and then an extension, Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin said he’d make a decision whether or not to release the returns by May 6. He declined to do so. On May 10, the committee subpoenaed Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig, giving them a May 17 deadline to turn over Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin again declined to comply. Neal suspects he’ll know his next move by May 24, but earlier he indicated he’ll take the issue to the federal courts.
Also, the subcommittee on Oversight held its first hearing on “legislative proposals and tax law related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns” on Feb. 7. “We will ask the question: Does the public have a need to know that a person seeking the highest office in our country obeys tax law?” said chair Rep. John Lewis (D–GA). Experts in tax law testified.
Legal cases, current status (latest change, May 22, 2019)
D.C. and MD attorneys general’s emoluments lawsuit
Official capacity—On Dec. 20, 2018, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it would hear the president’s appeal of district court rulings that allowed the case to proceed to discovery. The appellate court halted discovery in the case. Discovery had started Dec. 3 and was scheduled to run through Aug. 2, 2019, with the AGs having subpoenaed the Trump Organization, including its Scottish golf courses; the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Treasury and the GSA; and the state of Maine. Oral arguments on the appeal occurred on March 19; by all accounts the three-judge panel (all Republican appointees, including one who was a selection of President Trump’s) were skeptical of the AGs’ case. D.C. AG Karl Racine pledged to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Individual capacity—On Dec. 14, Trump’s personal attorneys appealed the denial of their motion to dismiss the case, also to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 19, the AGs replied to Trump’s motion for a stay pending that appeal by voluntarily dismissing the claims against Trump in his “individual capacity to allow the claims against President Trump in his official capacity to move forward expeditiously.” (The AGs only brought suit against Trump in his individual capacity after the judge suggested they do so.) Trump’s personal attorneys, on Dec. 21, opposed the motion to dismiss at the district level, saying the appeals court now has jurisdiction and accusing the AGs of “gamesmanship.”
UPDATED Democratic senators and representatives’ emoluments lawsuit
On Sept. 28, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that the legislators have standing to sue. Trump’s Justice Department attorneys filed an interlocutory appeal on Oct. 22. On Jan. 30, 2019, the plaintiffs’ filed a notice of supplemental authority, notifying the court of the GSA inspector general’s report that criticized GSA for failing to consider if the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease was in compliance with the Constitution after Trump became president. Two days later, the president’s attorneys argued that the IG’s conclusion was not inconsistent with Trump’s argument, but that the judge should ignore that report anyway because the IG has no expertise in interpreting or applying the foreign emoluments clause. On April 30, Sullivan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit. While the president’s attorneys have a supplemental brief due on May 28, on May 14 they filed a motion to stay the proceedings while they appeal Sullivan’s decision. A week later, the lawmakers opposed that motion.
CREW et. al’s emoluments lawsuit
Cork’s unfair competition lawsuit
Judge Richard J. Leon dismissed the case on Nov. 26, 2018, writing “Cork has failed to state a claim for unfair competition under D.C. law.” On Dec. 10, Cork’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal and on Jan. 10, 2019 they submitted a statement of issues to be raised. Cork filed its first appellant brief on May 15, arguing “the District Court failed to recognize the evolving nature of the common law of unfair competition in the District of Columbia and erroneously treated the prior cases as if they were a series of statutes that Appellant had to satisfy to state a claim
Employees’ class-action suit alleging racial discrimination
D.C. superior court (direct link not available, search for case 2017 CA 006517 B)
Two of the three plaintiffs did not appear at a status hearing on Jan. 25, 2019; their cases were moved to arbitration. Via email, their attorney, A.J. Dhali, said his clients did not appear at the hearing because their case already had been moved to arbitration last year. The next status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.
Health inspections, current status (latest change, Aug. 10, 2018)
❌Hotel—five violations on May 7, 2018; two were corrected on site
❌BLT Prime and Benjamin Bar—nine violations on Aug. 10, 2018
❌Sushi Nakazawa—two violations on Aug. 10, 2018
✔️Banquet kitchen—no violations on Aug. 10, 2018
❌Pastry kitchen—two violations on Aug. 10, 2018
✔️Gift shop—no violations on May 7, 2018
❌Employee kitchen and in-room dining—five violations on Aug. 10, 2018; two were corrected on site
Is the Trump Organization selling merchandise that depicts the White House? (latest change, March 21, 2019)
One thing that (probably) has nothing to do with Trump’s businesses
“Parents are poisoning their children with bleach to ‘cure’ autism. These moms are trying to stop it.” By Brandy Zadrozny for NBC News
Thanks for reading. If you like what you saw, tell someone—and support this work by becoming a member. If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, subscribe for yourself at zacheverson.substack.com. Questions? Read our FAQ/manifesto. Tips or feedback? Contact me, Zach Everson, securely via email at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com or on Signal at 202.804.2744.