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Today: Cabinet members, campaign officials, bundlers, and, yes, lobbyists
Trump bundlers meet with administration and campaign staff at hotel while lobbyists hold happy hour
Trump’s Cabinet members, Trump’s campaign manager, and Trump’s fundraisers gather today at Trump’s hotel, while separately (but maybe not) come happy hour, lobbyists will mingle at the hotel’s bar for their monthly Trump First Tuesday meetup.
From “Trump embraces the traditional fund-raising he once shunned” by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman for The New York Times:
About 200 bundlers from across the country are expected to gather Tuesday at the Trump International Hotel for a series of meetings and workshops about the campaign’s new fund-raising program. Vice President Mike Pence will address the group. Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager, will play host. Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Wall Street billionaire, has R.S.V.P.’d yes.
Other expected notables include Kellyanne Conway, Steven Mnuchin, Lara Trump, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and Todd Ricketts per Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post:
Also tonight, the hotel is hosting the monthly Trump First Tuesday happy hour from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The event’s description use to call it “a business networking happy hour for government relations professionals [lobbyists] and friends.” But now it’s just described as a “business networking happy hour.” So maybe non-lobbyist bundlers and Cabinet members will feel welcome too.
Mnuchin refuses to release Trump’s tax returns
Yesterday, Treasury Secretary and one-time Trump Hotel D.C. resident Steve Mnuchin declined to comply with Rep. Richard Neal’s (D–MA) request for President Trump’s tax returns.
From “The Daily 202: Mnuchin’s refusal to release Trump’s taxes recalls a treasury secretary who resisted White House pressure” by James Hohmann for The Washington Post:
Mnuchin claimed that the House Ways and Means Committee “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” for invoking a 1924 law that explicitly states the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the tax returns of any American at the request of the chairman. The secretary acknowledged recently, while under oath, that Treasury lawyers consulted with the White House Counsel’s Office about the issue, even though the process was intended to be walled off. Mnuchin announced last night that the Justice Department will soon issue a legal opinion to justify his noncompliance.
Here’s Mnuchin’s reply to Neal:
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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 Dubai golf course designer stops by White House to pick up Presidential Medal of Freedom
Trump 2016 deputy campaign manager David Bossie and Bikers for Trump’s Chris Cox were at the Trump Hotel D.C. during a JEXIT pre-party, which encourages Jews to join the hotel owner’s political party. The JEXIT gathering comes just a few days after LEXIT held its own event at the Trump Hotel D.C. (Earlier yesterday, by the way, “Donald Trump was incensed over a report that one of his highest-profile supporters, David Bossie, had been engaged in apparent financial self-dealing under the guise of re-electing the president,” reported Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay for The Daily Beast.)
Socialite Day McCarthy posed in a Trump shirt at the hotel’s entrance.
The Thornwood (N.Y.) fire department held its annual inspection and awards ceremony at Trump’s Westchester golf course on May 4.
Trump Turnberry hosted a charity that benefits people suffering with mental health issues, the Kris Boyd Charity (Boyd is a pro soccer player in Scotland).
Other Trump Organization news
“Inaugural official disputes White House account of her departure” by Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess for The New York Times
“Pools at Trump resorts were shut by Florida health inspectors 10 times in a year” by Justin Rohrlich for Quartz
“HazMat response reported at Trump Tower” by Luke Wilusz for The Chicago Sun Times
“What it’s like to stay at a remodeled Trump Hotel” by Naomi Tomky for Fortune
Trump Org EVP Donald Trump Jr., who is walled off from his father’s administration, praised U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. Last year Grenell appeared to celebrate his nomination with drinks at the Trump Hotel D.C.
Trump Dubai is offering a “Ramadan special.”
Two years ago, President Trump felt compelled to justify why he visited his properties. This Saturday, when he golfed at his Sterling, Virginia course for the third time in eight days, he didn’t feel the need to explain it.
House investigations, current status (latest change, May 7, 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. 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. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas.
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.
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. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas.
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.’”
UPDATED 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. He declined to do so. 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 6, 2019)
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. On April 30, Sullivan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit. The president’s attorneys have a supplemental brief due on May 14, although they’ve requested an extension to May 28.
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
“Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time” by Geoffrey A. Fowler for The Washington Post
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