WalkAway steps into sweet publicity

Ten days after WalkAway hosted an event at the president’s hotel, the president’s campaign Facebook page promoted WalkAway

On May 17–18, WalkAway, a movement encouraging Democrats to leave their party behind, celebrated its first anniversary with a movie screening and roaring 1920s-themed gala at the Trump Hotel D.C.

On May 28, President Trump’s Facebook campaign page promoted WalkAway to its 23.9 million followers, giving the group’s founder a 13-minute interview with the president’s daughter-in-law.

The video it shared includes footage from the party at the president’s hotel. (Because of a formatting issue, please select the link to watch the video. The Trump Hotel D.C. footage appears at the 5:35 mark.) So far the video has been viewed 424,000 times, gathering 5,400 shares.

Interviewing WalkAway founder Brandon Straka is Lara Trump. She’s a senior advisor on the Trump campaign and also married to one of the hotel’s other owners.


Democratic lawmakers share discovery wish list in emoluments suit

On Tuesday, the Senate and House Democrats suing President Trump for allegedly violating the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause told the judge what they’d like take a look at during discovery:

Plaintiffs anticipate the need for document discovery and depositions of the Trump Organization and other corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships in which the President has an ownership interest. This discovery will seek to determine which of these entities are accepting foreign-government benefits of the various types identified in Plaintiffs’ complaint: (1) intellectual property rights, (2) payments for rooms and events at hotels and golf clubs, (3) payments derived from real estate holdings, (4) licensing fees, and (5) regulatory benefits. Plaintiffs anticipate the need for additional document discovery from these entities, as well as banks and other financial institutions, to determine how funds from those entities are then deposited in the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust. Plaintiffs may also need additional limited discovery related to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust and the President’s financial documents to determine whether President Trump is currently receiving funds from the Trust, or if he is receiving funds from his business enterprises through other means. Finally, Plaintiffs may need to serve limited interrogatories on Defendant to identify initial sources for third-party subpoenas.

The Democrats also proposed that discovery start on June 20 and run through September 27.



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Rohrabacher’s credentials for new job include landing marijuana CEO access to U.S. president at Trump Hotel D.C.

A press release distributed yesterday announcing former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R–CA) new gig as a BudTrader board member highlighted how he landed the company’s CEO access to the U.S. president at the Trump Hotel D.C.:

Long before adult use cannabis was legalized in his home state of California, the then-Congressman Rohrabacher was making cannabis a key political issue on the basis of freedom….

In September of 2018, [BudTrader CEO Brad] McLaughlin traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with then-Congressman Rohrabacher and other members of Congress to discuss cannabis and hemp reform. McLaughlin even joined Rohrabacher at a private event at the Trump Hotel, attended by President Trump.

“I received a call from Congressman Rohrabacher,” says McLaughlin. “He told me, I need to come to Washington, D.C.—and that my country needs me. I was on the first flight to Washington DC,” McLaughlin said.

No photos from that gathering have turned up, but here’s one of Rohrabacher celebrating his birthday with a hemp lobbyist at the Trump Hotel D.C. in June 2017. As of November 2018, Rohrabacher was among the highest-spending candidates at Trump properties (according to an analysis by David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, and Anu Narayanswamy for The Washington Post).


Rundown: Other recent and upcoming events at Trump properties

Retired football player and current NFL Network analyst Shaun O’Hara’s charitable foundation hosted its 11th annual celebrity golf outing to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at Trump Bedminster on May 29. Joining O’Hara were footballers Zak DeOssie, O.J. Anderson, and Phil Costa. An Instagram post showed off the corporate sponsors for this event at the U.S. president’s golf club.

On May 28, the Washington D.C. Conservative Book Club met again at the Trump Hotel D.C. This time it discussed Ayn Rand’s The New Left.

Trump First Tuesday, a business networking happy hour (formerly called “a business networking happy hour for government relations professionals [lobbyists] and friends”) will return to the president’s hotel for its monthly gathering on June 4.

Trump Bedminster will host a golf tournament and dinner to benefit the beleaguered Boy Scouts of America on July 30, according to an invite posted on Instagram. Proceeds will support programs for at-risk youth and STEM in Northern and Central New Jersey. Corporate sponsorships are available.

American Priority is moving to Doral for its 2019 “#AmericaFirst” festival and conference. It will take place Oct. 10–12. Speakers include George Papadopoulos, Laura Loomer, and Pastor Mark Burns. Admission to the event runs from $150 to $2,400, with room rates starting at $199 per night. Sponsorship opportunities begin at $1,000.


Notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most of the 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.

Another pic of Attorney General William Bar from his visit last week to BLT Prime popped up on Instagram.

“I am so honored to work for this administration and this President,” wrote Deborah Cox Roush after dining at the Trump Hotel D.C. for the second time in a week. She’s a political appointee of Trump’s, working in the U.S. government as the director for Senior Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“The revered Eastern Kentucky State Representative Bobby W. McCool has landed in DC!” And this Republican state legislator dined at the U.S. president’s hotel with a video fellow at The Daily Caller, Maranda Finney.

Senior policy analyst at pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies and chair of Vote America First, Martha Boneta continued to promote the Trump Hotel Chicago after her recent visit there.

The hotel bar served as the bullpen for a Fox News show: former advisor to Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon, Raheem Kassam, was hanging out at the bar, left to appear on Fox News, and then returned to the bar.

Blaze TV’s Eric Bolling interviewed Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward with the head of her party’s hotel serving as a backdrop.


Other Trump Organization news

  • Trump Hotel D.C. managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, and a plate of gold Trump bars tried to close a deal to help the U.S. president’s hotel profit from the Asian luxury market.



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House investigations, current status (latest change, May 28, 2019)

Financial Services

The committee sent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank on Jan. 24. On March 1, chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D–CA) said the bank is cooperating with her committee and that staffers from the panel have met with bank employees in New York. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Deutsche Bank reportedly has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. But judge Edgardo Ramos declined to issue that injunction on May 22, saying that the financial institutions can comply with the lawmakers’ request. The Trumps’ appealed that ruling on May 24. The lawmakers and Trumps agreed to refrain from enforcing the subpoenas until after the appellate court issues its ruling.

Foreign Affairs

Chair Rep. Elliot Engel (D–NY) “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” per CNN on Jan. 23.

Judiciary

On March 4, the committee “served document requests to 81 agencies, entities, and individuals believed to have information relevant to the investigation,” according to a statement by the panel. Among the individuals the committee requested documents from are Trump Organization EVPs Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, EVP and COO Michael Calamari, CFO Alan Weisselberg, EVP and chief legal officer Alan Garten, Trump tax attorney Sherri Dillon, longtime Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff, former Trump advisor Felix Sater, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and Trump associate and inaugural chair Tom Barrack. The committee received “tens of thousands” of documents by the March 18 deadline the letters set for responses, according to its chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–NY). Among the respondents: Barrack, Steve Bannon, and the National Rifle Association. But more than half of the targets had not replied by April 3, two weeks after the deadline. On that day, the committee authorized subpoenas for former White House aides Bannon, Ann Donaldson, Hope Hicks, Donald McGahn, and Reince Priebus, per Politico. And on May 21, the committee did in fact subpoena Hicks and Donaldson. Attorneys for the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump did not respond to Politico’s inquires if their clients planned to reply. The committee is considering making additional document requests, including to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

The committee interviewed Felix Sater on March 21.

Intelligence

On Feb. 6, chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D–CA) issued a statement that said his committee would investigate links or coordination between the Russian government/related foreign actors and individuals associated with Trump’s businesses, as well as if foreign actors sought to compromise or hold leverage over Trump’s businesses.

On Feb. 10, Schiff said the committee would investigate Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, a major lender to the Trump Organization. Earlier, on Jan. 24, the committee sent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank. On Feb. 28, an aide said the panel expects to interview Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

During testimony on March 6, Michael Cohen turned over documents that allegedly show how Trump’s then-personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, edited Cohen’s statement regarding Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen later read this revised statement before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. In closed-door testimony in March, Cohen claimed the president submitted a false insurance claim regarding a fresco in Trump Tower. Felix Sater, who was connected to the Trump Moscow project, was scheduled to testify in an open hearing on March 27, but that has been postponed.

Schiff hired a veteran prosecutor experienced with combating Russian organized crime to lead this investigation.

The committee is also seeking to interview Trump inauguration organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Schiff said Deutsche Bank has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. But judge Edgardo Ramos declined to issue that injunction on May 22, saying that the financial institutions can comply with the lawmakers’ request. The Trumps’ appealed that ruling on May 24. The lawmakers and Trumps agreed to refrain from enforcing the subpoenas until after the appellate court issues its ruling.

Oversight and Reform

Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings’s (D–MD) 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,” on Jan. 13. In a Feb. 15 letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings said the committee received documents showing White House attorney Stefan Passantino and long-time Trump personal attorney Sheri Dillon provided “false information” to the Office of Government Ethics regarding Michael Cohen’s “hush-money payments.” As a result, Cummings wants to depose Passantino and Dillon; the White House, however, rejected Cummings’ request to interview Passantino. And on Feb. 27, Cohen testified to the committee about those payments and other Trump Organization business practices, which could lead to allegations of possible insurance fraud. The next day, House Democrats signaled they would seek testimony from Trump Organization officials whom Cohen alleged were implicated, including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and CFO Allen Weisselberg.

On March 6, Cummings requested information from the GSA about its reversal of an earlier decision to relocate FBI headquarters, which is located across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. And on April 12 Cummings wrote to the GSA again, this time requesting all monthly reports from the Trump Hotel D.C., information about any liens on the hotel, a slew of correspondence between the Trump Org and GSA, and legal opinions regarding the Trump Org’s compliance with the lease. Cummings gave an April 26 deadline; staffers for the committee and Cummings have not replied to inquiries asking if GSA replied and to what extent.

The committee also has requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records. And on March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 12, Cummings notified committee members that he plans to subpoena Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for his financial statements. President Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Hotel D.C. sued Cummings and Mazars USA on April 22 in an attempt to prevent the release of Trump’s financial records. Cummings postponed the subpoenas’ deadline while the courts address the president’s suit. On May 20, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta denied the president’s motion. Trump appealed the next day and two days after that, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ judges agreed to fast track the case, with oral arguments scheduled for July 12. But without further relief, Mazars could start turning over documents as soon as next week.

Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management

Transportation committee chair Rep. Peter DeFazio (D–OR) and subcommittee chair Dina Titus (D–NV) sent a letter to GSA administrator Emily Murphy on Jan. 22 asking for all communication between the GSA and members of the Trump family dating back to 2015, an explanation of how the D.C. hotel calculates its profits, profit statements since the hotel opened, any guidance from the White House regarding the lease, and whether or not Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are recused from participating in decisions regarding the property. GSA has “sent a partial response and the subcommittee is reviewing it,” according to a senior House staffer familiar with the situation. When hearings begin, it is likely that Murphy will be the first person called to testify, according to a person familiar with the subcommittee’s plans. Titus is hiring additional staffers to handle the investigation.

On March 6, Titus requested information from the GSA about its reversal of an earlier decision to relocate the FBI headquarters, which is located across the street from the Trump Hotel D.C. NPR reported on March 15 that, “Democrats on the committee want to know, among other things, whether there was any political pressure exerted on the GSA by the Trump White House, presidential campaign or transition team. They also want to know how the Trump Hotel calculates its profits, segregates incoming money from foreign governments, and what the Trump Organization owes the GSA on a monthly or annual basis.’”

Ways and Means

On April 3, chairman Richard Neal (D–MA) requested six years of Trump’s personal tax returns, as well as the returns for eight of his businesses (including that of the trust that holds the president’s ownership stake in the D.C. hotel). After the IRS missed Neal’s deadline and then an extension, Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin said he’d make a decision whether or not to release the returns by May 6. He declined to do so. On May 10, the committee subpoenaed Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig, giving them a May 17 deadline to turn over Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin again declined to comply. Neal suspects he’ll know his next move by May 24, but earlier he indicated he’ll take the issue to the federal courts.

Also, the subcommittee on Oversight held its first hearing on “legislative proposals and tax law related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns” on Feb. 7. “We will ask the question: Does the public have a need to know that a person seeking the highest office in our country obeys tax law?” said chair Rep. John Lewis (D–GA). Experts in tax law testified.


Legal cases, current status (latest change, May 30, 2019)

D.C. and MD attorneys general’s emoluments lawsuit

District court docket, appellate court docket

Official capacity—On Dec. 20, 2018, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it would hear the president’s appeal of district court rulings that allowed the case to proceed to discovery. The appellate court halted discovery in the case. Discovery had started Dec. 3 and was scheduled to run through Aug. 2, 2019, with the AGs having subpoenaed the Trump Organization, including its Scottish golf courses; the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Treasury and the GSA; and the state of Maine. Oral arguments on the appeal occurred on March 19; by all accounts the three-judge panel (all Republican appointees, including one who was a selection of President Trump’s) were skeptical of the AGs’ case. D.C. AG Karl Racine pledged to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Individual capacity—On Dec. 14, Trump’s personal attorneys appealed the denial of their motion to dismiss the case, also to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 19, the AGs replied to Trump’s motion for a stay pending that appeal by voluntarily dismissing the claims against Trump in his “individual capacity to allow the claims against President Trump in his official capacity to move forward expeditiously.” (The AGs only brought suit against Trump in his individual capacity after the judge suggested they do so.) Trump’s personal attorneys, on Dec. 21, opposed the motion to dismiss at the district level, saying the appeals court now has jurisdiction and accusing the AGs of “gamesmanship.”

UPDATED Democratic senators and representatives’ emoluments lawsuit

District court docket

On Sept. 28, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that the legislators have standing to sue. Trump’s Justice Department attorneys filed an interlocutory appeal on Oct. 22. On Jan. 30, 2019, the plaintiffs’ filed a notice of supplemental authority, notifying the court of the GSA inspector general’s report that criticized GSA for failing to consider if the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease was in compliance with the Constitution after Trump became president. Two days later, the president’s attorneys argued that the IG’s conclusion was not inconsistent with Trump’s argument, but that the judge should ignore that report anyway because the IG has no expertise in interpreting or applying the foreign emoluments clause. On April 30, Sullivan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit. While the president’s attorneys have a supplemental brief due on May 28, on May 14 they filed a motion to stay the proceedings while they appeal Sullivan’s decision. A week later, the lawmakers opposed that motion. On May 28, the plaintiffs proposed discovery taking place from June 20 through September 27 with them reviewing documents and taking depositions from the Trump Organization and other corporations in which the president has an ownership interest.

CREW et. al’s emoluments lawsuit

District court docket, appellate court docket

In February 2018, CREW appealed its suit being dismissed for lack of standing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on that motion were held on Oct. 30.

UPDATED Cork’s unfair competition lawsuit

District court docket, appellate court docket

Judge Richard J. Leon dismissed the case on Nov. 26, 2018, writing “Cork has failed to state a claim for unfair competition under D.C. law.” On Dec. 10, Cork’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal and on Jan. 10, 2019 they submitted a statement of issues to be raised. Cork filed its first appellant brief on May 15, arguing “the District Court failed to recognize the evolving nature of the common law of unfair competition in the District of Columbia and erroneously treated the prior cases as if they were a series of statutes that Appellant had to satisfy to state a claim. Attorneys for the president and his hotel requested a 31-day extension for filing their brief, with Cork’s consent, which the court granted on May 28. Trump’s brief is now due on July 15.

Employees’ class-action suit alleging racial discrimination

D.C. superior court (direct link not available, search for case 2017 CA 006517 B)

Two of the three plaintiffs did not appear at a status hearing on Jan. 25, 2019; their cases were moved to arbitration. Via email, their attorney, A.J. Dhali, said his clients did not appear at the hearing because their case already had been moved to arbitration last year. The next status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.


Health inspections, current status (latest change, May 28, 2019)

Per D.C.’s Department of Health:

  • ❌Hotel—five violations on May 7, 2018; two were corrected on site

  • ❌BLT Prime and Benjamin Bar—nine violations on Aug. 10, 2018

  • ❌Sushi Nakazawa—two violations on Aug. 10, 2018

  • ✔️Banquet kitchen—no violations on May 16, 2019

  • ❌Pastry kitchen—two violations on Aug. 10, 2018

  • ✔️In-room dining—one violation on May 16, 2019; it was corrected on site

  • ❌Northwest kitchen—three violations on May 16, 2019; two were corrected on site

  • ✔️Gift shop—no violations on May 7, 2018

  • ✔️Employee cafeteria—no violations on May 16, 2019


Is the Trump Organization selling merchandise that depicts the White House? (latest change, March 21, 2019)

Yes.


One thing that (probably) has nothing to do with Trump’s businesses

“Junior offender: How did the Harvard-bound Kyle Kashuv, a former leader of the young-conservative organization Turning Point, react when his racial slurs and hate speech surfaced online?” by Andrew Marantz for The New Yorker


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