Trump Org clients in Congress continue to defend Trump Org
Reps. Jordan and Meadows ‘concerned’ over Dems’ request to Capital One
Yesterday Rep. Jim Jordan (R–OH) and Mark Meadows (R–NC) wrote to Capital One, expressing their concerns about three House committee chairs’ request for documents about President Trump’s businesses.
According to Andrew Desiderio for Politico:
The March 11 request from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) comes amid intensifying congressional scrutiny of the president’s financial records and tax returns.
The lawmakers asked Capital One for all documents related to the president’s revocable trust, the Trump Organization and other subsidiaries of his financial empire. Notably, the Democrats asked for documents that might have been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller.
In their letter, Jordan and Meadows wrote, “This type of derivative request is not a best practice and has the veneer of a fishing expedition. Probes aimed simply at harming the electoral prospects of a future candidate for office are improper on their face.”
Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight committee, and Meadows, the ranking member of its subcommittee on Government Operations, have been staunch supporters of the president’s businesses, both as legislators and as customers:
In February, Meadows and Jordan criticized a GSA inspector general report that raised question on the legality of the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease.
Jordan’s campaign has spent $10,572.29 at the president’s hotel; Meadows’s total is $9,196.99. Each campaign even spent exactly the same amount ($1,461.79) on food at the hotel on Nov. 16, 2018.
Last month, a pro-Trump dark-money group announced a $100,000 ad buy on behalf of Jordan and Meadows.
Trump tax-return roundup
Executive summary—You can’t always get what you want:
“White House maneuvers to block release of Trump’s tax returns” by Erica Werner, Damian Paletta, and Jeff Stein for The Washington Post
“House Democrats could face long haul in pursuit of Trump taxes” by Richard Rubin for The Wall Street journal
The IRS commissioner subplot:
“Trump asked that confirmation of IRS counsel be a priority” by Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fansos for The New York Times
“Trump appointed as IRS commissioner a tax attorney who wrote an opinion piece arguing that Trump should not release his returns” reminded Ilya Marritz of WNYC and Trump, Inc.
And here’s that piece: “‘No ordinary audit: Donald Trump is facing the IRS ‘wealth squad’” by Charles Rettig for Forbes
Not only is the IRS commissioner a Trump appointee, but he’s also a Trump tenant reported David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post
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Mar-a-Lago security-lapse roundup
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D–MD) was satisfied with a Secret Service briefing on security at Mar-a-Lago reported Katherine Faulders of ABC News
“Mar-a-Lago probe zeroes in on confiscated thumb drive, sources say” by Michael Smith and Chris Strohm for Bloomberg
“‘Extreme’ flight risk: Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago says she owns $1.3M home, BMW” by Nicholas Nehamas, Sarah Blaskey, and Caitlin Ostroff for The Miami Herald
Trump University alum holds executive-protection conference at Trump Las Vega
The invitation-only “first annual Private Advanced Executive Protection Conference” is scheduled for Trump Las Vegas on April 19. The event is hosted by The World Protection Group, which is headed by Kent Moyer—a happy alumnus of Trump University.
House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R–CA) was back at the president’s hotel. He and Mike Pence have a joint fundraising committee called Protect the House; it’s already spent more than $220,000 at the Trump Hotel D.C. And McCarthy’s campaign has spent almost $9,500 there too.
Other Trump Organization news
“Michael Cohen’s lawyers contact lawmakers as they seek reduced sentence: Lawyers say that Cohen located documents believed to have ‘significant value’ to congressional investigators” by Rebecca Ballhaus for The Wall Street Journal
“Trump is already plotting his post-White House tell-all memoir” by Asawin Suebsaeng and Maxwell Tani for The Daily Beast
Seems likely President Trump will visit his Los Angeles golf course today per David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post
A golf course owned by President Trump paid to advertise in a Scottish newspaper and then praised the advertisement.
House investigations, current status (latest changes, April 5, 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.
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.
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.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.
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). 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, 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
“The day the dinosaurs died: A young paleontologist may have discovered a record of the most significant event in the history of life on Earth.” By Douglas Preston for The New Yorker.
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