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DC And Maryland Plan To Subpoena The Trump Organization's Tax Records In The Fight Over DC's Trump Hotel

DC and Maryland are suing Trump over his refusal to divest financial interests in his business empire, specifically his hotel in Washington, DC.

Last updated on December 4, 2018, at 5:38 p.m. ET

Posted on December 4, 2018, at 5:08 p.m. ET

Brian Snyder / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The attorney general offices in Washington, DC, and Maryland are planning to subpoena the Trump Organization and an array of other Trump companies and federal agencies in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's refusal to divest from his businesses.

The DC attorney general's office on Tuesday released a list of entities that it and Maryland are preparing to subpoena now that a federal judge in Maryland signed off on a schedule for the exchange of evidence in the case. Besides the Trump Organization, the subpoena list includes various LLCs set up under Trump's name and companies set up specifically for the Trump International Hotel in Washington — the business that's at the heart of the lawsuit.

According to copies of the subpoenas released by the DC attorney general's office, their demands include asking for the Trump Organization's state and federal tax returns, documents about the DC hotel's projections, calculations, and marketing related to the 2016 presidential election, and information about Trump's business interests in the Washington region and anyone who did business with the hotel who represented or worked for a US or foreign government entity.

Although Trump refused to divest from his businesses, he pledged to give profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury. DC and Maryland's subpoenas request information about any such payments.

DC and Maryland also plan to subpoena 18 entities that they say compete with Trump's hotel — they did not identify those businesses — and five federal agencies, including the General Services Administration, which managed the process for leasing what was formerly a historic post office in downtown Washington for Trump to convert into the hotel. The Treasury, Defense, Commerce, and Agriculture departments are also on the list.

The subpoenas represent the next phase of litigation in DC and Maryland's lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the US Constitution by profiting from foreign, state, and local governments who do business at his DC hotel. The clauses generally prohibit US officials from accepting "emoluments," a term that generally refers to financial benefits.

Over the past year, US District Judge Peter Messitte has repeatedly rejected Trump's efforts to get the case dismissed. In March, he ruled that DC and Maryland had standing to pursue claims against Trump related to the DC hotel. In July, he sided with DC and Maryland in adopting a broader definition of "emolument" than what the Justice Department had argued.

The subpoena announcement on Tuesday came a day after Messitte issued an order approving a schedule for exchanging evidence, known as discovery. That gave DC and Maryland the green light to issue subpoenas.

The Justice Department is trying to stop the case from going forward while it challenges Messitte's earlier decisions. Messitte last month denied the government's request to put the case on hold while the Justice Department pursued an appeal. Late last week, the Justice Department notified the court that it planned to go to the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to challenge Messitte's rulings, and asked him to wait to approve a discovery schedule. Messitte did not do so.

The government also said it would ask the 4th Circuit to put the case on hold while the appeals judges decided whether to take up the case, which could stop discovery from moving ahead in the short term. The government hadn't filed any papers with the appeals court as of Tuesday afternoon.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although Messitte denied Trump's motions to dismiss the claims filed against him in his official capacity as president, the judge has yet to rule on Trump's bid to have claims filed against him individually tossed out. Trump's personal lawyers from the law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park filed papers on Monday asking Messitte to hold a status hearing on what should happen next with those claims as the rest of the case goes forward — and gets more complicated.

Here is whom DC and Maryland plan to subpoena:

  • State of Maine
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Agriculture
  • General Services Administration
  • OPO Hotel Manager Member Corp.
  • THC DC Restaurant Hospitality LLC
  • The Trump Organization Inc.
  • Trump International Hotels Management LLC
  • Trump International Hotels Management Member Corp.
  • Trump Old Post Office LLC
  • Trump Old Post Office Member Corp.
  • Trump Organization LLC
  • The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust
  • The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust c/o Allen Weisselberg as Trustee of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust
  • DJT Holdings LLC
  • DJT Holdings Managing Member LLC
  • OPO Hotel Manager LLC
  • 18 unnamed entities that compete with the Trump Hotel

UPDATE

Updated with additional information about DC and Maryland's subpoenas.


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