Judge denies Trump's motion to dismiss lawmakers' emoluments suit
Congressional Democrats lawsuit can proceed
From “Congressional Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit targeting President Trump’s private business can proceed, judge says” by Jonathan O’Connell, Ann E. Marimow, and Carol D. Leonnig for The Washington Post:
Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption law and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene.
Read Sullivan’s entire 48-page decision here.
In addition to this suit, two other emoluments suits are working their way through the courts:
D.C. and MD attorneys general—After a district judge ruled that the attorneys general had standing to sue, discovery started on Dec. 3, 2018 and was scheduled to run through Aug. 2, 2019, with the AGs having subpoenaed the Trump Organization; the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Treasury and the GSA; and the state of Maine. Trump appealed that decision, however, halting discover. By all accounts the three-judge panel (all Republican appointees, including one who was a selection of President Trump’s) that heard the oral arguments was skeptical of the AGs’ case.
CREW et. al—In February 2018, CREW appealed its suit being dismissed for lack of standing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on that motion were held on Oct. 30. A decision has not yet been reached.
Deepak Gupta, an attorney who argued CREW’s appeal and has worked with the D.C. and Maryland AGs, remarked that judges in two of the suits have interpreted “emoluments” broadly. That’s noteworthy as there’s little legal precedent regarding the emoluments clauses.
As The Post’s article points out, Trump’s DOJ attorneys can appeal yesterday’s ruling in the Congressional suit. Based on the president having taken that step in the AG’s case—seemingly to favorable jurists—such an appeal does seem likely here.
D.C. government takes steps to protect climate-change–denying president’s hotel from effects of climate change
From “D.C. is first to plan to remove, retrofit flood-prone buildings” by Christopher Flavelle for Bloomberg:
Washington is announcing a goal of retrofitting or removing all of its flood-prone buildings by 2050, the first major U.S. city to set such a policy.
The proposal is part of a broader plan to protect Washington, which is home to 700,000 people and the headquarters of most federal agencies, from climate change and other threats…
Also in the floodplain is the Trump International Hotel, which President Donald Trump’s company has leased from the U.S. General Services Administration.
Support 1100 Pennsylvania: never-redacted reporting on President Trump’s D.C. hotel
We now know most of what’s in the Mueller report. It’s time to focus on what happens inside the Trump Hotel D.C. and the president’s other businesses. Original, in-depth reporting, of course, takes time. But it’s making an impact—and you can help. If you’re not an 1100 Pennsylvania member, please become one. 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.
Trump Org promotes White House-themed gifts for Mother’s Day
Per a marketing email sent yesterday, the Trump Store thinks Trump-branded merchandise that shows the White House is a perfect way to celebrate your mother. The unwind and the pretty in pink packages it promoted both contain products showing the head of the Trump Organization’s current residence. According to the Trump Store’s website, the pretty in pink set has sold out.
For more on the Trump Organization breaking its vow not to market itself using the presidency, check out 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous coverage:
Trump Org marketing items depicting the White House breaks Trump Org’s promise to not do that
Trump Store selling White House merch made in China, Thailand
The agricultural attaché at Hungary’s ministry of foreign affairs and trade, Kocsy Bela, noted that the U.S. president’s hotel serves pricey Hungarian wine by the crystal spoon.
Department of Defense staffer Lorie Khatod drowned her sorrows in chocolate cake at the commander-in-chief’s hotel.
An “advisor to politicians, public figures, and companies,” Derek Utley of X Strategies, LLC, appeared to follow up a White House visit with a trip to the president’s hotel down the street.
Political consultant, Fox News pundit, and Trump campaign advisory board member Harlan Hill posed with, uh, me, and public-affairs specialist Sarah Selip. (Fun fact: The one person in this photo who’s not a Trump Hotel D.C. regular is the guy who publishes a daily newsletter about the place.)
Last night at the hotel your correspondent also saw Blaze TV’s Eric Bolling.
Other Trump Organization news
“At Trump golf course, undocumented employees said they were sometimes told to work extra hours without pay” by Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post
Trump Org EVP Eric Trump appears to have replied to the Post’s scoop:
“How taxpayers covered a $1,000 liquor bill for Trump staffers (and more) at Trump’s club” by Derek Kravitz for ProPublica
“Over two decades, Deutsche Bank lent Donald J. Trump billions of dollars, even as his tarnished financial record put him off limits for most of Wall Street…Now, Deutsche Bank is putting the president on the defensive. Lawyers for the bank have spent months cooperating with investigators from two Democratic-controlled congressional committees.” By David Enrich for The New York Times.
The Trump International Beach Resort, Florida signed a letter to President Trump asking to expand the H-2B visa program for temporary workers. [H/T CREW]
“[Democrats in the House] are trying to get credit card records for guests at the Trump D.C. hotel. ‘Cause you know why? They want to know who’s staying at Trump’s hotel and whether they’ve ordered a racy movie or ordered red meat from room service or whatever else.” – Rush Limbaugh, April 30, 2019. Two weeks prior to defending the Trump Organization, Limbaugh golfed with President Trump at Trump Palm Beach.
“Rally at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor focuses on bill to limit tax cuts” by David McKay Wilson for The Rockland/Westchester Journal News
“Trump Hotels™ launches new Trump Card® Privileges Program website with enhanced offerings for loyalty members” via a press release
Trump Org EVPs walled off from their father’s administration, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., each recently sent fundraising emails on behalf of their father’s campaign [H/T Trump Fundraising Emails Twitter account]
“May is National Hamburger Month, and a D.C. restaurant is marking it with a pricey burger. BLT Prime by David Burke at the Trump International Hotel is offering up the BLT Prime Decadence, an off-the-menu burger that costs $45.” By Jeff Clabaugh for WTOP.
House investigations, current status (latest change, May 1, 2019)
UPDATED Financial Services—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 Capitol 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.
Foreign Affairs—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.
Judiciary—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 EVP Donald Trump Jr.; EVP 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. 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.
UPDATED Intelligence—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 Capitol 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.
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 the committee requesting the president’s tax returns and 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. The committee also has requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capitol One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. And on April 12, Cummings notified committee members that he plans to subpoena Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for his financial statements. That same day Cummings also wrote to the GSA 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. 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. Trump’s suit cites an 1880 Supreme Court decision—that was overturned in 1927. Cummings postponed the subpoenas’ deadline while the courts address the president’s suit. A hearing is scheduled for May 14.
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 first deadline, he extended it until 5 p.m. on April 22. The IRS missed that deadline too and Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin said he’d make a decision whether or not to release the returns by May 6. 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.
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.
Legal cases, current status (latest change, May 1, 2019)
D.C. and MD attorneys general’s emoluments lawsuit (district court docket, appellate court docket)—
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, and 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.
CREW et. al’s emoluments lawsuit—In February 2018, CREW appealed its suit being dismissed for lack of standing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on that motion were held on Oct. 30.
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. A briefing schedule was set on March 5 with Cork’s brief due on April 15, the president’s brief due on May 15, and Cork’s reply to the president’s brief due on June 5. On April 11, however, Cork’s attorneys requested a 30-day extension, to which Trump’s attorneys consented—as did the court the following day.
Employees’ class-action suit alleging racial discrimination—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
“The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved” by Hunter S. Thompson
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.