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Attorneys general filing subpoenas in lawsuit claiming Trump profits from presidency

Trump sued by 2 AGs
Trump sued by 2 AGs 03:18

The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland plan to file subpoenas Tuesday seeking records from the Trump Organization, the Internal Revenue Service and dozens of other entities as part of a lawsuit accusing President Trump of profiting off the presidency. Specifically, the attorneys general want to know about how Mr. Trump could be profiting from foreign entities that could cause concern for national interests. 

The flurry of subpoenas came a day after U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte approved a brisk schedule for discovery in the case alleging that foreign and domestic government spending at the Trump Organization's Washington, D.C., hotel amounts to gifts to the president in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.

The subpoenas target more than 30 Trump-linked private entities and the federal agency that oversees the lease for Mr. Trump's D.C. hotel. Subpoenas were also being sent to the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and the IRS, all of which have spent taxpayer dollars at the hotel.

Other Trump entities that officials plan to subpoena include those related to his D.C. hotel and its management.

The Maryland attorney general's office confirmed the targets of the subpoenas to The Associated Press as they were being prepared Tuesday.

The subpoenas focus on answering three questions: which foreign domestic governments are paying the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where that money is going and how the Trump hotel is affecting the hospitality industry in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

To help answer those questions, the subpoenas are asking for records of payments to Trump from state government and federal agencies that patronized the hotel. They're also seeking information proving that hotel revenues are going to the president through his affiliated entities, including The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust. Most of the records are being requested back to Jan. 1, 2015.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Neither the Trump Organization nor the White House immediately responded to a request for comment Tuesday.

Mr. Trump's Justice Department lawyers have previously argued that earnings from such business activity as hotels stays don't qualify as emoluments. And in court papers last week challenging the judge's decision to move the case forward, Justice lawyers objected to any discovery on a sitting president in order to avoid a "constitutional confrontation." They also argued that any discovery would "be a distraction to the President's performance of his constitutional duties."

The organizations the attorneys general will subpoena include the Treasury, Defense, Commerce, and Agriculture departments, along with numerous Trump Organization entities. 

Democrats, who take control of the House in January, insist getting their hands on Mr. Trump's tax returns will be one of their first orders of business when they gain investigative and subpoena powers. Meanwhile, the Trump Organization has not disclosed how much it has made from foreign governments since Mr. Trump's presidency began. 

In February, a Trump Organization executive says the company has donated profits from foreign patrons, but didn't say how much. The Trump Organization said in a pamphlet released in 2017 that it would rely on foreign representatives to self-report if they were paying a Trump company for something in their official capacity or if their government was footing the bill. 

This suit won't be completed quickly. According to the court, the fact discovery period for the lawsuit should be completed by June 3 of next year. 

CBS News' Clare Hymes contributed to this report. 

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