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DC and Maryland send subpoenas to Trump Org over hotel payments

The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland began sending subpoenas to the ...

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 6:28 AM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 6:28 AM

The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland began sending subpoenas to the Trump Organization as well as five federal agencies and the state of Maine for financial records involving payments to President Donald Trump's businesses.

Subpoenas are expected to begin going out as early as Tuesday, with targets required to provide information within the next six months.

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"At this time we are not seeking information from President Trump in his individual capacity and we have not issued any notices of deposition to date," a spokesperson from the office of DC Attorney General Karl Racine said Tuesday.

The case is proceeding just as the Trump Organization braces for a flurry of investigations from House Democrats once they take control of Congress in January.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit by DC and Maryland claims Trump is in violation of the Constitution's ban on emoluments, or payments, from foreign or domestic government entities to the president because of his continued interest in the Trump International Hotel.

DC and Maryland have said the Trump International Hotel's operations put other nearby hotels and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions. The hotel won its lease on federally owned property before Trump's election.

The luxury property, which opened three blocks from the White House shortly before Trump was elected in 2016, has become a favorite hangout for lobbyists and others interested in doing business with the administration.

DC and Maryland have indicated they intend to subpoena 13 business entities operating under the umbrella of the Trump Organization, including the trust that currently holds the President's business assets, the Trump International and the Trump Organization itself.

Requests are also expected to go to the US Treasury and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Defense. The General Services Administration, which leases the Trump International property to the Trump Organization, will also be targeted.

The state of Maine, which conducted business at the Trump hotel as alleged in the lawsuit, will also be subpoenaed by the DC and Maryland attorneys general offices, along with 17 other entities that have done business with the hotel.

Transactions between the Trump International Hotel and foreign dignitaries could eventually be made public if the case proceeds to trial or if the attorneys general decide to release the information.

District Judge Peter Messitte gave the go-ahead Monday for subpoenas to proceed. The Justice Department has indicated it may ask the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals to block the subpoenas.

In a court filing, a personal lawyer for Trump argued that the case would create onerous burdens on his time, because "the President will need to review the flurry of discovery requests and responses that the other parties will trade; he also will need to review the significant third-party discovery Plaintiffs seek."

The court has not yet determined if Trump as an individual will be able to be sued in the case. His personal attorney in the case has asked the court for a hearing on that aspect.

In November, a DC judge dismissed a challenge from a Washington wine bar challenging Trump's involvement in the Trump International. In that lawsuit, the proprietors of Cork Wine Bar said it suffered because lobbyists and other political-minded customers chose to host fundraisers, events and dinners at the Trump International Hotel rather than at its business.

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