Romanian PM staying at U.S. president's hotel
In town for AIPAC, Viorica Dancila was spotted at the Trump Hotel D.C. on multiple nights
From “Romanian prime minister is staying at Trump’s D.C. hotel” by Ilya Marritz, Justin Elliott, and me for ProPublica and WNYC’s Trump, Inc.:
The prime minister of Romania stayed at President Donald Trump’s hotel during her trip to Washington over the weekend. She is the first foreign government leader known to have booked a room at the property in more than a year.
Select the link for the full article and to see a photo of Dancila in the hotel’s lobby.
Dancila also met with Vice President Mike Pence on her visit to the United States.
Purina Mills booked Trump’s ballroom
Animal-feeds company Purina (not to be confused with petcare firm Nestlé Purina) held an event over the weekend at the president’s D.C. hotel, based on a band’s booking page and two photos tagged to the hotel’s location showing the Purina logo. From the second photo it appears the group rented out the hotel’s main ballroom.
Representatives from Purina have not replied to an inquiry about the event.
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Round up: Trump’s weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club and his Palm Beach golf course
At Mar-a-Lago, Trump met with leaders from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia. And while his post didn’t mention his private club…
…the embassy of Haiti’s did…
…as did one from Guadalupe’s consulate.
From “Graham delivers laughs—and loyalty—at Mar-a-Lago dinner” by Andrew Restuccia, Daniel Lippman, and Marc Caputo for Politico:
Sen. Lindsey Graham delivered a rousing speech behind closed doors at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, joking about the prospect of President Donald Trump opening a hotel in Jerusalem and asking the crowd whether they’d like to see former Rep. Trey Gowdy on the Supreme Court.
Gowdy also attended the dinner. And Graham called for investigating Hillary Clinton, according to Kevin Liptak of CNN. It was well received by Mar-a-Lago’s patrons.
The president took the stage at his private club too.
Rep. Brian Mast (R–FL) attended the Lincoln Day dinner at Mar-a-Lago.
Vice chair of the pro-Trump non-profit America First Policies Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump Org EVP Donald Trump Jr., and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi also were there. In this photo, Guilfoyle tagged European designer Chiara Boni La Petite Robe.
Senior advisor to the counsel to the president, Liz Horning; White House staff secretary, Derek Lyons; White House spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders; White House director of social media and assistant to the president, Dan Scavino; press secretary and communications director for the First Lady, Stephanie Grisham; and White House deputy press secretary, J. Hogan Gidley, had a great night at their boss’s private club. This photo from a U.S. government employee on a verified Instagram account mentions Mar-a-Lago in both the location field and caption.
Disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R–FL) was back at Mar-a-Lago.
Fox News’s Gina Loudon, a Trump business regular, had “a beautiful, spirited evening in the most beautiful club in the world.”
Over the weekend the president also squeezed in a round of golf with one of his supporters, Kid Rock.
And another Trump customer got a photo with the U.S. president.
Gillibrand attacks hotel owner outside one of his New York properties
From “Kirsten Gillibrand, outside a Trump hotel, calls the president a ‘coward’” by Shane Goldmacher for The New York Times:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, speaking outside a Trump-branded high-rise in Manhattan on Sunday, launched a frontal attack on President Trump, calling him a “coward” and the building bearing his name “a shrine to greed, division and vanity.”
The speech by Ms. Gillibrand, part of what her campaign billed as the official kickoff of a 2020 bid that has unofficially been underway since January, appeared to be a calculated effort to elevate a candidate who has so far struggled for traction and attention in a crowded Democratic field.
The speech occurred outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower, near Central Park. Last week, Gillibrand’s fellow Democratic candidate for president, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, reportedly attended a fundraiser at an apartment inside the same building.
A former advisor to Bangladesh’s BNP political party who later was found guilty of fraud by a U.S. court, Zahid F. Sarder Saddi, returned to the U.S. president’s hotel. (Conviction info via bdnews24.com.)
The dining companion of the head of imports and exports at the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency enjoyed a lovely birthday treat at the U.S. president’s hotel.
The same Friday afternoon FEMA dumped news of a massive data breach, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was back at her boss’s hotel (per Katie Rogers of The New York Times).
President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was back at President Trump’s Hotel D.C. On Friday, he was spotted lunching there (per Katie Rogers of The New York Times) and re-entering the building again later the evening (by your correspondent). Here Giuliani posed with Alyssa Gulick, an intern for Rep. Jim Banks (R–IN).
Jim Emme, a board member for the Natural Products Association (“the leading trade association for dietary supplements”) and the CEO of NOW Health Group, left a good impression.
Fox News pundit and Trump campaign advisor, Harlan Hill, a Trump Hotel D.C. regular found solace in from all those pesky D.C. Democrats. He was with fellow hotel regulars The Hill’s Buck Sexton and Jessica Grose, as well as a senior contributor to The Federalist, Erielle Davidson. Your correspondent spotted Hill at the hotel both Friday and Sunday nights.
University of California-Berkeley student Hayden Williams, who allegedly was assaulted while recruiting students to join Turning Point USA, returned to the hotel Friday night. He was with Ximena Barreto, a former Trump political appointee in the Department of Health and Human Services who resigned after CNN and Media Matters reported she’d “spread conspiracies and made anti-Muslim comments”. Also seen with Barreto, lobbyist and repeat hotel customer Christopher Neiweem.
The Trump Hotel D.C.’s managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, continued his crusade against allegedly spiteful travel bloggers. “#Trump”
Other Trump Organization news
“Sater eyed Trump Moscow tower to launder cash, BTA Bank says” by Erik Larson for Bloomberg
For a period last year, the Trump Organization scrubbed the name “Trump” from a brochure advertising office space in Trump Tower, per David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post.
House investigations, current status (latest changes, March 22, 2019)
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.
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 current White House staffers, as well as some former ones have not replied yet. And GOP committee staffers said the panel only received eight replies by the deadline. 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.
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. Felix Sater, who was connected to the Trump Moscow project, is scheduled to testify in an open hearing on March 27. Schiff hired a veteran prosecutor experienced with combating Russian organized crime to lead this investigation.
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.
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 subcommittee on Oversight—The subcommittee 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, March 20, 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.”
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.
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.
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
From “Far right and very wrong: Why white nationalist terrorism is a global threat” by The Economist:
The names and slogans scrawled on his weapons were familiar to extreme white nationalists all around the world—but hardly anyone else. His ranting internet manifesto, “The Great Replacement”, repeated a staple far-right conspiracy theory: that non-white and Muslim immigrants in Western countries are invaders, ushered in by scheming elites to replace ethnic-European populations. Variants of that once-fringe idea are now common, not just in social-media posts by anonymous wackos but in the speeches of elected politicians from Hungary to Iowa.
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