Tag Archives: Emoluments Clause

Discovery in Emoluments Clause case to be resisted by the Grifter-in-Chief

Grifter-in-Chief Donald Trump’s lawyers made a desperate last-minute bid over the weekend to block the discovery process in the Emoluments Clause case filed by the Attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.  U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte rejected their arguments.

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have wasted no time in seeking discovery. Maryland and District of Columbia Seek Business Records Related to Trump Hotel:

The State of Maryland and the District of Columbia began issuing subpoenas on Tuesday for records related to President Trump’s hotel in Washington, seeking evidence of conflicts of interest that violate the Constitution’s anti-corruption provision.

See Subpoena For Documents (.pdf) to U.S. Department of Commerce (for payments made to Trump International Hotel, etc.), and Subpoena For Documents (.pdf) to DJT Holdings, LLC (for financial records from as many as 13 of President Trump’s private entities, including all state and federal business income tax returns, etc.) Production of documents is due on January 3, 2019.

The subpoenaed documents could lead to depositions with Trump Organization officials.

Their demands for a vast array of documents, including tax records related to the president’s business, are certain to run headlong into a legal challenge by the administration. The Justice Department is expected to contest rulings by a federal judge who allowed the litigation to go forward, and the case appears bound for the Supreme Court.

The governments of Maryland and the District of Columbia are claiming that Mr. Trump is violating the emoluments clauses of the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign leaders or state officials who patronize the Trump International Hotel, which is on Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House. They are seeking documents from about a dozen entities connected to Mr. Trump’s business, including the trust in which he placed assets when he became president, as well as from numerous other entities.

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Trump crime family finances exposed in blockbuster New York Times report

The New York Times has published a massive investigative report into the Trump crime family finances. In the process, the Times has burst the myth purveyed by Donald Trump for years that he is a self-made man. He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. The Trump empire is built upon a foundation of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering through real estate. Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (excerpt):

The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.

The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.

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Looks like almost everyone is now ready to ‘flip’ on Donald Trump

Allen Weisselberg has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Trump Organization for decades. The Wall Street Journal reported that Weisselberg was once described by a person close to the company as “the most senior person in the organization that’s not a Trump.”

NBC News’ reports that Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is apparently “Executive 1” referenced in the prosecutors’ filing in the Michael Cohen case.

The Wall Street Journal reports today, Allen Weisselberg, Longtime Trump Organization CFO, Is Granted Immunity in Cohen Probe:

Allen Weisselberg, President Trump’s longtime financial gatekeeper, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Weisselberg, who is chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was called to testify before a federal grand jury in the investigation earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal previously reported, citing people familiar with the investigation. He then spoke to investigators, though it isn’t clear whether he appeared before the grand jury.

The decision by prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office to grant immunity to Mr. Weisselberg escalates the pressure on Mr. Trump, whom Mr. Weisselberg has served for decades as executive vice president as well as CFO for the Trump Organization. After Mr. Trump was elected, he handed control of his financial assets and business interests to his two adult sons and Mr. Weisselberg.

Mr. Weisselberg didn’t respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Trump, who on Thursday said so-called flipping “almost ought to be illegal,” declined to comment.

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Emoluments Clause case can proceed to discovery

On Wednesday a federal judge allowed one of the three Emoluments Clause cases against President Trump to proceed to discovery — produce all of your tax returns! In Ruling Against Trump, Judge Defines Anticorruption Clauses in Constitution for First Time:

In the first judicial opinion to define how the meaning of the Constitution’s anticorruption clauses should apply to a president, Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., said the framers’ language should be broadly construed as an effort to protect against influence-peddling by state and foreign governments.

He ruled that the lawsuit should proceed to the evidence-gathering stage, which could clear the way for an examination of financial records that the president has consistently refused to disclose. The Justice Department is expected to forestall that by seeking an emergency stay and appealing the ruling.

The two constitutional clauses at issue restrict a president’s ability to accept financial benefits or “emoluments” from domestic or foreign governments, other than his official salary. No federal judge before has ever interpreted what those bans mean for the president.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, say that Mr. Trump is violating those bans by accepting profits from the Trump International Hotel, a five-star hotel just blocks from the White House that is frequented by foreign and state officials. The judge earlier ruled that the local jurisdictions had standing to sue because the Trump hotel arguably siphons off business from their convention centers or hotels.

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Hearings in Emoluments Clause cases go well for the plaintiffs

So many scandals, so little time … it’s hard to keep up with all of the scandals of the most corrupt administration in American history. Judge in Emoluments Case Questions Defense of Trump’s Hotel Profits:

A federal judge on Monday sharply criticized the Justice Department’s argument that President Trump’s financial interest in his company’s hotel in downtown Washington is constitutional, a fresh sign that the judge may soon rule against the president in a historic case that could head to the Supreme Court.

As one pundit recently quipped, “The Trump Hotel should be renamed the Hotel Emoluments Clause.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland, charge that Mr. Trump’s profits from the hotel violate anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution that restrict government-bestowed financial benefits, or emoluments, to presidents beyond their official salary. They say the hotel is siphoning business from local convention centers and hotels.

The judge, Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Maryland, promised to decide by the end of July whether to allow the plaintiffs to proceed to the next stage, in which they could demand financial records from the hotel or other evidence from the president. The case takes aim at whether Mr. Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prevent a president from accepting government-bestowed benefits either at home or abroad. Until now, the issue of what constitutes an illegal emolument has never been litigated.

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