Spotted: Rudy Giuliani and Romania's prime minister
The president’s attorney, who’s made overtures to Romania, dined within feet of Viorica Dancila at the Trump Hotel D.C.
Rudy Giuliani and Romania’s prime minister dined within arm’s reach of each other this weekend at the Trump Hotel D.C.
Viorica Dancila stayed at the U.S. president’s hotel over the weekend (as Ilya Marritz of WNYC, Justin Elliott of ProPublica, and your correspondent reported on Monday). As that article explained, Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, had “made overtures to the Romanian government since Trump was elected.” Giulinai had been spotted at the hotel this weekend too, but not with Dancila. And his spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment for that article.
But then, at 2:08 a.m. today, Giuliani tweeted a picture of himself dining in the hotel’s BLT Prime restaurant with the president’s “All Star legal team.” And there, seated just over Giuliani’s left shoulder, is the prime minister of Romania.
Beyond that BLT Prime’s patron’s physical resemblance to Dancila, she’s wearing the same dress your correspondent spotted Dancila in at the hotel around 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Additionally, the photo Giuliani shared in today’s wee hours could not have have been taken last night, as Molly Jong-Fast had seen him dining in New York City around 7 p.m.
Of course, the mere fact that Dancila and Giuliani ate next to each other proves nothing (except that the U.S. president profited from both of their meals).
Trump Store selling White House merch made in China, Thailand
The Trump Store is selling merchandise depicting the White House that was not made in the United States. Those items, which debuted online last week, also are sold in the Trump Hotel D.C.’s gift shop, a half mile down the street from the White House.
Photos, taken this morning in the hotel’s gift shop, show a Trump Hotels shot glass with a drawing of the White House that was made in China. And a Trump coffee mug with the White House on it was manufactured in Thailand.
The Trump three-bar soap set, however, was made in the United States. Originally advertised with one bar showing the White House under “Trump Hotels”, those wrappers appear to have been removed (a gift-shop sales clerk claimed they never existed).
It was not immediately apparent where several of the other items were made.
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Hotel welcomes Family Research Council’s Christian Heritage Tour and Summit today
The Family Research Council’s inaugural D.C. Christian Heritage Tour and Summit is today through Sunday with accommodations at the Trump Hotel D.C. Tickets for the tour cost $2,498 per person and do not include airfare.
According to FRC president Tony Perkins, the tour may include “a White House briefing.” There also will be “a private spiritual heritage tour of the U.S. Capitol followed by dinner with congressional members on Capitol Hill.” And on Sunday, the hotel will host a worship service with Perkins.
From Perkins’s letter describing the event:
While others may try to disprove the fact that America is a Christian nation, we want to show you first-hand why it is fact. Journey with us through the establishment of our nation, our present challenges and opportunities, and look into a future that is possible. For the sake of America, we must steward this great gift with prayer, engage in the present political environment, and stand firm in transcendent Truth as we move forward.
"We have a religious niche,” the hotel’s managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, said in an interview with Hotels magazine last year.
Other Trump Organization news
“House Democrats request 10 years of Trump financial records” by David A. Fahrenthold and Colby Itkowitz for The Washington Post
“Hollywood conservative Jon Voight will be appointed to serve as members on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' board of trustees, the White House announced Tuesday…Voight…spoke at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club last month for a gala hosted by female Trump supporters who call themselves ‘Trumpettes.’” By Diana Stancy Correll for The Washington Examiner. [H/T Matt Corley of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (involved in two emoluments lawsuits against the president)
“Trump appoints Carl Lindner III to Kennedy Center Board of Trustees…Trump crashed the Mar-a-Lago wedding of Carl Lindner IV and gave an impromptu speech to the guests in early 2017.” By WCPO Cincinnati. [H/T again to Matt Corley]
President Trump leaves D.C. tonight for Mar-a-Lago (per White House pool)
“Five Trump trips to Mar-a-Lago would cover Betsy Devos’s proposed Special Olympics cuts” by Phillip Bump for The Washington Post
“‘No man’s land’: How Trump Tower became Chicago retail’s biggest failure” by Alex Nitkin and Joe Ward for The Real Deal
One of the president’s Scottish golf courses has a dedicated day to profit from corporations
House investigations, current status (latest changes, March 28, 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, 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.
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 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.
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
Former Trump Cabinet secretaries Scott Pruit and Ryan Zinke were hanging out together recently at the Dallas County Republican Party’s annual Reagan dinner.
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