Here's why you won't see Trump's financials before the election

Obstructionist president, sluggish courts, flaccid House investigations mean Election Day 2020 likely to pass before voters might be able to see Trump’s financial info

Last week separate rulings by the Supreme Court and an appellate court likely ensured that President Donald J. Trump’s financial records won’t become public until after the November election (if at all). 

Trump’s spectacular success in shielding these records from the public for an entire term is a combination of his personal and Justice Department lawyers playing the system brilliantly, a leisurely judicial system that enables litigants of means to delay final verdicts, an obstructionist White House, complicit Republican lawmakers, and a dash of Democratic legislators’ impotence mixed with a shift in focus to impeachment proceedings and COVID-19 pandemic.

(This analysis does not include the Manhattan district attorney’s pursuit of Trump’s tax returns, as they’re for a grand jury and are not supposed to be made public.)

Here’s how—despite three major lawsuits alleging his business interests violate the Constitution and at least seven House committees investigating his finances—Trump has been able to keep private his tax returns, business dealings, and even the revenue of a hotel housed in a U.S. government-owned building.

Lawsuits alleging Trump’s business interests violate the Constitution’s Foreign and Domestic Emoluments clauses

Plaintiffs: Restaurant and hotel owners

  • Filed: January 2017

  • District court ruled plaintiffs did not have standing to sue and dismissed the case: December 2017

  • Plaintiffs appealed order to dismiss: February 2018

  • Appeals court ruled plaintiffs have the standing to sue: September 2019

  • Current status: In October 2019, Trump’s Justice Department attorneys asked the entire appeals circuit to review the September 2019 ruling. As of mid-July 2020, the court hasn’t decided if it will allow such an appeal (much less been briefed or heard oral arguments).

Plaintiffs: D.C. and Maryland attorneys general

  • Filed: June 2017

  • District court ruled plaintiffs have standing to sue: March 2018

  • Appeals court ruled plaintiffs do not have standing to sue: July 2019

  • Plaintiffs petitioned entire appeals circuit for a rehearing: August 2019

  • Entire appeals circuit ruled plaintiffs have standing to sue: May 2020

  • Current status: In July 2020, the entire appeals circuit put discovery on hold pending Trump’s appeal of the reinstatement to the Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs: ~200 Democratic Senators and Representatives

  • Filed: June 2017

  • District court ruled plaintiffs have standing to sue: September 2018

  • Trump filed a motion to appeal: October 2018

  • Appeals court ruled plaintiffs do not have standing to sue, as they do not comprise a majority of either house of Congress: February 2020

  • Current status: No appeal was filed, and a district court officially dismissed the case in early July 2020.

House committee investigations into Trump’s financial interests

Caveat: It’s possible committees took actions that are not known publicly. That being said, multiple panels have been pursuing their investigations in the courts, the House has impeached this president, and 2020 is an election year—so it seems likely any major developments would have come to light.

Financial Services—Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • The committee initiated discussions with Deutsche Bank about its ties to Trump, according to CNN: January 2019

  • Waters asked Capital One for documents regarding Trump’s finances, per Politico: March 2019

  • The committee subpoenaed nine banks, including Deutsche Bank and Capital One, for Trump’s financial records reported The Wall Street Journal: By mid-April 2019

  • Trump sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to block them from complying with the subpoenas: April 2019

  • A district court denied Trump’s request for an injunction regarding the subpoenas: May 22, 2019

  • Trump notified the court of his intent to appeal. In exchange for an expedited schedule, Democrats agreed to refrain from enforcing the subpoenas until after the appellate court rules, CNN reported: May 24, 2019

  • An appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, but remanded the case to the district court to review the potential release of personal information: Dec. 3, 2019

  • The Supreme Court stayed the case and announced it would hear Trump’s appeal: Dec. 13, 2019

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the House has the authority to subpoena the president, but remanded the case to a lower court to review the specifics of the House’s requests: July 9, 2020

  • A House attorney asked the Supreme Court to immediately apply its ruling, which would allow the lower court to review the subpoenas: July 13, 2020

Foreign Affairs—Chair Eliot Engel (D–NY)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • CNN reported Engel said “he plans to investigate whether President Donald Trump’s businesses are driving foreign policy decisions, including whether Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution in the process”: Jan. 23, 2019

  • Engel demanded the State Department turn over records of its spending at Trump properties by Aug 2, 2019: July 22, 2019

  • The State Department returned “less than 50 documents,” per Engel: Between August 2019 and March 2020

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

  • Engel requested a status update about his document request from the State Department: March 2020

Judiciary—Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • Nadler announced an investigation into alleged “obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power” by Trump, his associates, and administration members. The committee requested documents from 81 entities, setting a March 18, 2019 deadline: March 4, 2019

  • According to its press release, “The Committee has heard from a large number of the recipients, many of whom have either sent or agreed to send documents to the Committee. Those documents already number in the tens of thousands.” March 18, 2019

  • Politico reported that fewer than half of the recipients had responded, and that the committee voted to authorize subpoenas for five people, including former Trump Org staffer Hope Hicks: April 2019

  • The committee subpoenaed Hicks for documents, with a June 4 deadline: May 21, 2019

  • At the instruction of the White House, Hicks did not comply with the subpoena: June 4, 2019

  • Hicks testified before the committee: June 19, 2019

  • Citing inconsistencies with new evidence, Nadler asked Hicks to clarify her testimony: July 2019

  • The committee requested information from the White House about its plans to host the 2020 G7 summit at Doral and Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at Trump Doonbeg, setting a Sept. 19 deadline: Sept. 5, 2019

  • The committee announced it planned to hold a hearing titled “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” on Sept. 23: Sept. 6, 2019

  • The committee postponed the hearing, which spokespeople for the panel attributed to the death of a Congressman’s wife. A spokesperson said the hearing likely be rescheduled for mid-October 2019 (as of mid-July 2020, no hearing has been held): Sept. 23, 2019

  • The committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 13 2019

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

Intelligence—Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • The committee initiated discussions with Deutsche Bank about its ties to Trump, CNN reported: January 2019. [For details about the Deutsche Bank and Capital One aspects of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Trump’s businesses, please see the Financial Services panel’s section as they collaborated.]

  • Schiff said the committee would investigate links or coordination between the Russian government/foreign actors and individuals associated with Trump’s businesses: February 2019

  • Former Trump Org vice president Michael Cohen testified before the committee, including about a potential licensing deal for Trump Tower Moscow and (per the Washington Post) alleging Trump submitted a false insurance claim regarding a fresco in Trump Tower: February and March 2019

  • The Wall Street Journal reported major U.S. financial institutions had provided the panel with thousands of documents “related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump”: August 2019

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

Oversight and Reform—Chair Elijah Cummings (D–MD) until his death on Oct. 17 2019, then Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • The committee requested documents from the White House related to Trump’s debts and payments to silence women alleging affairs, setting a Jan. 22, 2019 deadline: Jan. 8, 2019

  • CBS News reported Cummings’s staff “has already sent out 51 letters to government officials, the White House, and the Trump Organization asking for documents related to investigations that the committee may launch”: Jan. 13, 2019

  • In response to a request from Cummings and other lawmakers, the Government Accountability Office released a report showing the Trump administration spent $13.6 million on travel to Mar-a-Lago: Jan. 17, 2019

  • The White House responded to the committee’s Jan. 8 letter, with an attorney writing the adminisartion was “prepared to consider” providing some information: Feb. 1, 2019

  • The comittee replied to the White House, requesting full compliance to the earlier letter as well as additional information, setting a Feb. 22, 2019 deadline: Feb. 15, 2019

  • Former Trump Org vice president Michael Cohen testified before the committee, providing information about hush-money paid to Stormy Daniels, Trump’s contimued post-election involvement in his businesses, allegedly inflated financial statements Trump supplied to Deutsche Bank, and Trump Tower Moscow: Feb. 27, 2019

  • Reuters reported the committee told Trump’s long-time tax lawyer Sheri Dillon it wanted to depose her: Feb. 27, 2019

  • Cummings and other House committee chairs requested documents from the General Services Administration regarding its decision not to relocate the FBI headquarters, which is across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. The lawmakers set a March 20, 2019 deadline: March 6, 2019

  • The committee asked Capital One for documents regarding Trump’s finances, per Politico: March 2019

  • Cummings requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records from Mazars USA, the president’s longtime accounting firm. The chair set an April 3 deadline: March 20, 2019

  • The committee asked GSA to provide all monthly reports from the Trump Hotel D.C., information about liens on the hotel, correspondence between the Trump Org and agency, and legal opinions regarding the Trump Org’s compliance with the lease. Cummings set an April 26 deadline: April 12, 2019

  • Cummings subpoenaed Mazars USA for Trump’s financial records, per CNN: April 15, 2019

  • Trump and his companies sued Cummings and Mazars USA to block the subpoenas: April 22, 2019

  • The Washington Post reported the committee agreed to postpone the subpoena’s deadline until after the court rules on Trump’s suit: April 23, 2019

  • District court ruled in favor of the committee and denied Trump’s request for a stay pending appeal: May 20, 2019

  • Trump appealed the district court’s ruling: May 21, 2019

  • In exchange for an expedited schedule, the committee agreed to postpone its subpoena’s deadline until after the court ruled on Trump’s appeal: May 22, 2019

  • The committee requested information from the Department of Defense regarding its expenditures at Trump Turnberry. The panel set a July 8 deadline: June 21, 2019

  • Bloomberg reported GSA had failed to provide all the information Cummings requested, citing confidentially concerns: June 27, 2019

  • GSA provided some documents regarding the Trump Hotel D.C., which the committee’s staff was reviewing: By Aug. 7, 2019

  • The committee requested information from the White House about the G7 summit and Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at Trump Doonbeg, setting a Sept. 19 deadline: Sept. 5, 2019

  • Saying that the Department of Defense had produced no documents in response to the committee’s June 21 letter, the panel made a second request. It also asked for additional information and set a Sept. 13 deadline: Sept. 10, 2019

  • The committee sent a third letter to the Defense Department requesting additional information about its spending at Trump Turnberry (which the department claimed had been $124,000). The panel extended its previous deadline to Sept. 27: Sept. 18, 2019

  • Politico reported that the committee was investigating allegations that groups, including a foreign government, “tried to ingratiate themselves to President Donald Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never staying in them”: Oct. 2, 2019

  • An appeals court affirmed the district court’s ruling in favor of the committee, requiring Mazars USA to comply with its subpoena: Oct. 11, 2019

  • Trump petitioned the entire appeals court for a rehearing: Oct. 24, 2019

  • The full appeals court denied Trump’s request for a rehearing and let stand the previous rulings requiring Mazars USA to comply with the committee’s subpoena: Nov. 13, 2019

  • Trump appealed to the Supreme Court to block Mazars USA from complying with the subpoena: Nov. 15, 2019

  • The Supreme Court put Mazars USA’s subpoena on hold pending Trump’s appeal: Nov. 18, 2019

  • The Supreme Court granted Trump’s application to hear his appeal and keep the subpoena on ice pending the court’s ruling: Dec. 13, 2019

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

  • The committee requested information from the Secret Service regarding its payments to Trump properties. The panel set a Feb. 25 deadline: Feb. 12, 2020

  • The committee asked GSA for documents regarding any rent relief the Trump Org requested regarding its D.C. hotel. The panel set a May 13 deadline: April 29, 2020

  • The committee asked the Trump Organization about any communications it had regarding COVID-19 related bailouts with foreign and domestic governments. The panel set a May 21 deadline: May 7, 2020

  • GSA informed the committee that it neither granted nor received a formal request for rent relief regarding the Trump Hotel D.C.: May 21, 2020

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the House has the authority to subpoena the president, but remanded the case to a lower court to review the specifics of the House’s requests: July 9, 2020

  • A House attorney asked the Supreme Court to immediately apply its ruling, which would allow the lower court to review the subpoenas: July 13, 2020

Transportation and Infrastructure—Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • Committee asked GSA for the Trump Hotel D.C.’s unredacted financial reports and communications between the two entities. The panel set a Feb. 8 deadline: Jan. 22, 2019

  • GSA replied, providing thousands of pages of documents, but withholding some financial reports and legal memos: Feb. 12, 2019

  • DeFazio and other House committee chairs requested documents from GSA regarding its decision not to relocate the FBI headquarters, which is across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. The lawmakers set a March 20, 2019 deadline: March 6, 2019

  • GSA informed the panel that it lacks a legislative purpose for the financial records and that the requested legal memos are attorney-client communications that will not be provided: July 2019

  • The committee wrote to GSA, asking the agency to comply with the panel’s Jan. 22 request: Sept. 10, 2019

  • The committee held a hearing on the lease. GSA officials continued to refuse to turn over unredacted financial statements, but did acknowledge that in 2018 the hotel had not hit performance benchmarks that would have increased revenues for taxpayers: Sept. 25, 2019

  • The committee wrote to GSA, following up for a second time on its Jan. 22 request for unredacted financial statements and communications. It also asked GSA to audit the hotel. It requested a reply by Oct. 16: Oct. 1, 2019

  • The committee wrote to GSA, informing it that failure to comply with the panel’s request would result in a subpoena for the records. The committee set an Oct. 23 deadline: Oct. 17, 2019

  • DeFazio subpoenaed GSA after the agency didn’t comply with the committee’s request for the hotel’s financial information. It set a Nov. 4 deadline: Oct, 24, 2019

  • The GSA Lease Transparency Act of 2019, “which would require GSA to conduct audits of Federal properties that have been leased to private parties,” passed a committee vote: Nov. 12, 2019

  • GSA replied to the subpoena, but the committee felt the information provided “unfortunately falls short”: By Nov. 14, 2019

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

  • The panel sent another letter to GSA, threatening to hold a hearing if the agency didn’t fully comply with the subpoena: Dec. 20, 2019

  • The committee held its second hearing on the lease. GSA repeatedly decline to provide the hotel’s financial information, although the agency acknowledged it had offered to show the reports to the lawmakers if they promised not to make the information public: January 2020

  • The committee sent another letter to GSA requesting records about the hotel’s finances, communications, and how the agency will vet potential buyers of the hotel’s lease. The agency set a Feb. 21 deadline: Feb. 7, 2020

  • GSA replied to the latest letter but it “failed to provide any substantive information on how GSA will vet potential buyers of the Trump Hotel lease” according to a panel spokesperson: Between Feb. 27 and March 5, 2020

  • GSA informed the committee that it neither granted nor received a formal request for rent relief regarding the Trump Hotel D.C.: May 2020

Ways and Means—Chair Richard Neal (D-MA)

  • Democrats took control of the House: Jan. 3, 2019

  • The panel held a hearing on “legislative proposals and tax law related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns”: February 2019

  • The committee requested six years of Trump’s personal federal tax returns and the returns for eight of his businesses from the Internal Revenue Service. The panel set a April 10 deadline: April 3, 2019

  • Neal extended the deadline until April 23, The Hill reported: Between April 11 and April 22, 2019

  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin informed Neal that the IRS would not turn over the federal tax returns as the committee’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose”: May 6, 2019

  • The committee subpoenaed Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig for Trump’s federal tax returns. The panel set a May 17 deadline to turn over the tax returns: May 10, 2019

  • Mnuchin again refused to comply with the committee’s request for Trump’s federal tax returns: May 17, 2019

  • The committee sued the Treasury, the IRS, Mnuchin, and Rettig for Trump’s federal tax returns: July 2, 2019

  • New York passed a law requiring it to release the president’s state tax returns to the chair of the House Ways and Means committee, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, or the chair the Joint Committee on Taxation should they request the information and have a legislative purpose: July 8, 2019

  • Trump sued the committee and New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, to block the release of his state tax returns: July 23, 2019

  • The committee voted to release documents showing that a different Congressional panel once had requested President Nixon’s tax returns. The IRS provided those records: July 25, 2019

  • In a joint-status report, New York offered to refrain from providing Neal with Trump’s state tax returns (should the chair request them) while the court considered a motion regarding jurisdiction. New York also agreed that it wouldn’t turn over any requested returns for a week after the court’s ruling: July 30, 2019

  • A district court ordered that should Neal request Trump’s state tax returns, New York state must immediately inform the court and Trump. The court also ordered New York not to give Neal any information about Trump while the court considered a motion and for one week after any ruling: Aug. 1, 2019

  • The district court dismissed Trump’s suit to prevent the release of his state tax returns over an issue regrading jurisdiction. The judge noted Trump was free to file his suit elsewhere and could “renew his claim” should Neal request the returns: Nov. 11, 2019

  • Trump filed a motion to block New York from releasing his state tax returns until the parties were able to “litigate the legality” of New York’s law should Neal or one of the other chairs request the documents: Nov. 12, 2019

  • The district court ruled that should Neal request Trump’s state returns, the chair must simultaneously notify Trump and the court so it can have 14 days to review the legality of the request. The court also barred Neal from receiving Trump’s records during that 14-day window: Nov. 18, 2019

  • The committee notified the court it planned to appeal the ruling requiring it to notify Trump if the panel requested his state tax returns: Dec. 17, 2019

  • The full House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, neither of which pertained to his business interests: Dec. 18, 2019

  • The district court paused the proceedings in the panel’s lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the IRS seeking Trump’s federal tax returns pending a decision in a similar case (U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn): Jan. 14, 2020

  • The district court continued to pause the proceedings in the panel’s lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the IRS seeking Trump’s federal tax returns pending a decision in a similar case (U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, which was being appealed): March 20, 2020

  • The appeals court granted the committee’s unopposed request for additional time to file its brief in the suit regarding Trump’s state tax returns: March 25, 2020

  • The appeals court granted the committee’s unopposed request for additional time to file its brief in the suit regarding Trump’s state tax returns: April 23, 2020

  • The appeals court granted the committee’s unopposed request for additional time to file its brief in the suit regarding Trump’s state tax returns. Its brief is now due on Sept. 4, 2020 with all briefings due by Oct. 26: June 11, 2020

Other financial disclosures

  • Since 2016, Trump has refused to follow precedent and release his tax returns, claiming it was because the IRS was auditing them. As of mid-July 2013, all of the audits were complete except for “one or two,” according to Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani (reported Roger Sollenberger for Salon).

  • As president, Trump submitted his mandatory public financial disclosure reports in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Trump’s 2020 disclosures, however, are well past due.

Know any developments that were not included? Please Contact Zach Everson at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com (it’ll be encrypted if you also use a ProtonMail account, which is free) or via Signal (secure), SMS, or mobile at 202.804.2744.


Trump administration moves benefit Trump Organization customers (again)

In the past week or so, the federal government made three decisions that were advantageous to entities that have helped the president profit from his businesses while in office.

Exporters of gun silencers

Payday loan industry

Roger Stone


At her uncle’s D.C. hotel, Mary Trump ‘grabbed a split of TRUMP white wine, and poured it down my Trump throat’

If you want to know Mary L. Trump’s thoughts on her uncle’s D.C. hotel., you’ll have to wait until page one of the prologue in “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man” [bold added]:

I took a cab to the Trump International Hotel, which was comping my family for one night. After checking in, I walked through the atrium and looked up at the glass ceiling and the blue sky beyond. The three-tiered crystal chandeliers that hung from the central beam of interconnected girders arching overhead cast a soft light. On one side, armchairs, settees, and couches—royal blue, robin’s-egg blue, ivory—were arranged in small groups; on the other, tables and chairs circled a large bar where I was later scheduled to meet my brother. I had expected the hotel to be vulgar and gilded. It wasn’t.

My room was also tasteful. But my name was plastered everywhere, on everything: TRUMP shampoo, TRUMP conditioner, TRUMP slippers, TRUMP shower cap, TRUMP shoe polish, TRUMP sewing kit, and TRUMP bathrobe. I opened the refrigerator, grabbed a split of TRUMP white wine, and poured it down my Trump throat so it could course through my Trump bloodstream and hit the pleasure center of my Trump brain.


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Notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

PragerU’s The Candace Owens Show returned to the Trump Hotel D.C.’s priciest suite, the Trump Townhouse, for its July 12 episode. The previous installment also was shot there, as 1100 Pennsylvania reported last week. According to the hotel’s managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, in a 2019 interview, a night in the hotel’s presidential suite, which is smaller than the Trump Townhouse, started at $17,500.

On his way out of D.C., Lee Stranahan, a host for Russia-backed Sputnik radio, toasted Andrii Telizhenko by drinking a white Russian (but calling it a white Ukrainian) at the Trump Hotel D.C. Telizhenko is ex Ukrainian diplomat who’s been pushing the story that his country interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of the Clinton campaign. He’s also popped up at the Trump Hotel D.C.

Sunny Aggarwal, a legislative aide to Florida State Rep. Rene Plasencia (R), enjoyed Sunday night shenanigans recently that included a glass of wine at the president’s hotel.

Andre Soriano, designer of the MAGA gown, demonstrated not social distancing with two other Trump supporters.

Edmund Kozak, an “experienced Anglo-American political journalist and commentator with a demonstrated history of right-wing rabble-rousing,” was glad to return to his “sweet home away from home.”

New York City modified Trump Tower’s view.


Other Trump Organization news


Reference section

Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.

Trackers

Notable hotel customers

Summaries

Upcoming key dates

  • Sept. 23, 2019—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)

  • July 29, 2020—Deadline for joint status reports in the The Washington Post’s lawsuit alleging the Departments of State and Homeland Security have failed to share records responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests seeking information on government spending at Trump properties

  • Aug. 10, 2020—Scheduling conference before D.C. Superior Court in D.C. attorney general’s lawsuit alleging improperly spent nonprofit funds by the Trump Hotel D.C. and Trump’s inaugural committee

  • Oct. 29, 2020—Mediation session in at least a one-time Trump appointee in the Commerce Department’s lawsuit against the Trump Hotel D.C., alleging a shard of glass from a sabered bottle of champagne left a gash in her chin


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