Lobbyist networking event padded president’s pockets
Panoramic and overhead shots required to show Trump First Tuesday crowd
President Trump’s D.C. hotel had so many customers last night, that when its managing director went to boast about his “#success” on Twitter, panorama mode was required to show all the patrons mingling in the center of the lobby atrium.
Also last night: the hotel hosted Trump First Tuesday—a monthly happy hour founded more than a year ago as a networking event for lobbyists.
Mickael Damelincourt wasn’t kind enough to identify the customers in his photo, much less share who might be paying them to try to influence the U.S. government. But several guests at the hotel during Trump First Tuesday shared that information about themselves.
A host and two correspondents for Russian-funded RT America, Scottie Nell Hughes, Manila Chan, and Sara Montes de Oca, celebrated “great things.” It’s unclear if Hughes was referring to the ease with which staffers for a foreign government-funded media outlet can openly get cash to the U.S. president or if she was referring to something else.
“An experienced sales and marketing executive with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry specializing in the Federal marketplace,” Jonathan Smith of Dell, let the world know he found the head of the executive branch’s hotel “amazing.”
An EVP of STOP Democrats NOW, Lauren E. Witzke (who’s also into QAnon), stirred up trouble but enjoyed doing so.
An advisor to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) transition on public safety, Hunter Pollack, whose sister was killed in Parkland, reacted to yesterday’s arrest of an officer tasked with guarding her school.
The president of the pro-gun Second Amendment Institute, Tyler Yzaguirre (a hotel regular), declared himself the MVP of the evening. He was with Abby Aldeen, a coordinator at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform—an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which claims it’s trying to distance itself from the GOP.
TV host and podcaster Mike Rowe (but not his hat) posed with a fan.
Andre Soriano, designer of the MAGA gowns, preached love,
Someone ordered a bottle of champagne (which cost $149–$2,650).
John Willding, a partner at lobbying firm Barnes & Thornburg who appears to be an organizer of Trump First Tuesdays, praised the patriotism of people patronizing the U.S. president’s hotel.
Sprint exec hid photo of her chatting with President Trump at his Sterling club
Monday’s 1100 Pennsylvania reported that an executive at Sprint spoke with President Trump at his Sterling, Virginia golf club over the weekend. Kathleen Leach, a principal in Sprint’s global standards and ecosystem development area, has not replied to inquiries asking if she brought up Sprint’s proposed merger with T-Mobile, which needs U.S. government approval. But she did make her Instagram account private yesterday.
The photo of her getting “a minute to chat with the POTUS,” of course, still exists.
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ABC heard Trump’s motion to dismiss protest of hotel’s liquor license renewal today
Today at 1 p.m. the D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board was scheduled to review a motion from President Trump’s D.C. hotel to dismiss a protest of its application to renew its liquor license. Any ruling from the board does not appear to have been made public yet.
In May, a group of clergy and judges asked the board not to renew the Trump Hotel D.C.’s liquor license. D.C. law requires license holders be “of good character”—a criterion these religious leaders and judges claim the U.S. president does not meet, according to a letter from the group’s attorney, Joshua Levy, to the D.C. control board.
Should the board deny the president’s motion to dismiss, it will set a date for a status hearing to determine if the civic leaders have standing to bring a complaint, Levy said.
In June 2018, this same group asked the control board to revoke the hotel’s liquor license. The board punted on the issue in September, saying that the appropriate time to reflect on the character requirement was when the license came up for renewal, not during the middle of the licensing period. The hotel’s license is due for renewal now.
Update: But wait, there’s more
The May 30, 2019 1100 Pennsylvania reported that Deborah Cox Roush—who dined twice in a week at Trump Hotel D.C.—was a political appointee of President Trump.
Turns out Roush also was “the assistant director of public events, volunteer coordinator for the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee and was an integral part of the planning of this historic event,” as she put it on her LinkedIn profile.
That committee, of course, steered $700,000 to the Trump Hotel D.C. for event space. [H/T Ilya Marritz of WNYC and Trump, Inc.]
Other notable sightings
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.
Alabama’s former Commissioner of Revenue, Julie Prendergast Magee, had to see the place for herself.
A political consultant who works with the Special Forces Foundation, Bill Gowan, stopped by a business owned by the commander-in-chief who also oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Trump or be trumped” wrote a data analyst for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Lauren Olson. She enjoyed a glass of wine, at a hotel owned by the head of her party, with fellow NRCC data analyst Lauren Dooley.
Scottish soccer player John Fleck got married over the weekend at Trump Turnberry.
Professional ice skater Alex Murphy had “the absolute BEST stay” at Trump’s Turnberry resort.
Second vice chair of the Forsyth County, Georgia GOP, Yahanseh George confused Trump Hotel D.C. staffers for people working for POTUS.
Other Trump Organization news
“Trump companies accused of tax evasion in Panama” by Heather Vogell for ProPublica
“Pay day at the Trump Doral” by Alice Wilder and Anjali Tsui for ProPublica and WNYC’s Trump, Inc.
“Campaign money helping make up for tenant shortage at Trump Tower” by S.V. Date for Huff Post
“World of influence: A guide to Trump’s foreign business interests” by Anna Massoglia and Karl Evers-Hillstrom for The Center for Responsive Politics
“For Trump, London visit is a (royal) family affair” by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers for The New York Times
“‘Marla was under duress’: Revealed in his Marla Maples prenup, Donald Trump’s draconian art of the marriage deal: She only got $1 million. Trump called himself a billionaire, but likely wasn’t. Child support would cease if Tiffany joined the Army or the Peace Corps. And other secrets of the Trump-Marla prenup.” By Gabriel Sherman for Vanity Fair.
“How Donald Trump for years used the royal family to gin up publicity for his properties” by Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck for CNN
“Trump to stay at Doonbeg, his money-losing golf course threatened by climate change” by David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post
Ireland’s Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, denied reports his government spent €10 million to promote Trump Doonbeg, reported Fiachra Ó Cionnaith of The Irish Examiner.
“Donald Trump Ireland visit—Doonbeg farmers asked not to cut silage or spread slurry during U.S. President’s trip” by Claire Healy for The Irish Sun
“John Marshall Law School pushes to end male bias claims” by Law360
Trump Hotels issued a press release, which doesn’t happen often.
Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course promoted a book about what it’s like to work for the U.S. president.
Trump International Scotland emailed at least one person who’d never golfed there (your correspondent) to rate his experience.
Mickael Damelincourt, the Trump Hotel D.C.’s managing director, wants you to know the U.S. president’s D.C. hotel stands to bring in a lot of money this week.
President Trump chose not to divest; Americans need to know who’s paying him
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House investigations, current status (latest change, June 3, 2019)
The committee sent a inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank on Jan. 24. On March 1, chair Rep. Maxe 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. The Trumps’ appealed that ruling on May 24. The lawmakers and Trumps agreed to refrain from enforcing the subpoenas until after the appellate court issues its ruling. The court announced it will expedite the briefing process, which will end on June 18, and hold a hearing held shortly thereafter.
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. The Trumps’ appealed that ruling on May 24. The lawmakers and Trumps agreed to refrain from enforcing the subpoenas until after the appellate court issues its ruling. The court announced it will expedite the briefing process, which will end on June 18, and hold a hearing held shortly thereafter.
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 and two days after that, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ judges agreed to fast track the case, with oral arguments scheduled for July 12. 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 30, 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. 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.”
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. On May 28, the plaintiffs proposed discovery taking place from June 20 through September 27 with them reviewing documents and taking depositions from the Trump Organization and other corporations in which the president has an ownership interest.
CREW et. al’s emoluments lawsuit
District court docket, appellate court docket
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
District court docket, appellate court docket
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. Attorneys for the president and his hotel requested a 31-day extension for filing their brief, with Cork’s consent, which the court granted on May 28. Trump’s brief is now due on July 15.
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, May 28, 2019)
Per D.C.’s Department of Health:
❌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 May 16, 2019
❌Pastry kitchen—two violations on Aug. 10, 2018
✔️In-room dining—one violation on May 16, 2019; it was corrected on site
❌Northwest kitchen—three violations on May 16, 2019; two were corrected on site
✔️Gift shop—no violations on May 7, 2018
✔️Employee cafeteria—no violations on May 16, 2019
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
“Kentucky student papers persist as schools sue to stop record releases” by Rich Shumate for The Columbia Journalism Review
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