D.C., Maryland AGs Begin Issuing Subpoenas In Trump D.C. Hotel Suit
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UPDATE, DEC. 4, 4:30 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to include the latest information on the subponeas being issued by the attorneys general.
The finances of the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue could soon come to light following the latest ruling in a high-profile case over foreign payments at the property.
U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messittee approved legal discovery Monday for D.C. and Maryland's attorneys general in a suit they filed over the Trump hotel 18 months ago, the Washington Post reports.
Following the ruling, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh began issuing subpoenas of business entities and federal agencies, the Post reports. They are seeking documents from more than a dozen entities related to The Trump Organization to discover which foreign governments have spent money at the D.C. hotel and how much they have spent.
The attorneys general are also looking for financial information from competing properties like the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and nearby hotels in an attempt to show foreign spending at the Trump Hotel has unfairly hurt other businesses. They are also issuing subpoenas to the General Services Administration, the federal government's real estate arm, which leases the Old Post Office building to the Trump Organization, and to at least four other federal agencies.
The legal discovery process is expected to finish in early August. The attorneys general are seeking information to prove their claims that foreign officials spending money at the hotel violates the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clause and that President Donald Trump is illegally profiting off the presidency. Trump said upon taking office that he would not divest from his businesses or put his assets in a blind trust.
The attorneys general introduced the lawsuit in July 2017. The judge in March ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to sue the president because of the potential effect on competing hotels in the area — some of which taxpayers have a stake in — from foreign officials choosing to stay at the Trump Hotel.
Justice Department lawyers have challenged the judge's decision to allow the case to move forward, arguing that the suit represents an attack on the principle of separation of powers between branches of the federal government.
The Trump International Hotel sits less than two blocks from the current headquarters of the FBI, the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
After a yearslong search process to move the law enforcement agency out of the crumbling Hoover Building, the GSA reversed course after Trump assumed the presidency, and recent emails released indicate Trump — who was reported as being "obsessed" with the FBI project — intervened to prevent the headquarters from moving away from the shadow of his hotel.