What Cohen told us about the Trump Org’s business practices

Welcome to 1100 Pennsylvania, a newsletter devoted to President Donald Trump’s Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. (and his other companies). President Trump, of course, still owns his businesses and can profit from them.

If you like what you see, tell someone—and support this work by becoming a paying member ($5/month or $50/year). If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, subscribe for yourself at zacheverson.substack.com. Questions? Read our FAQ/manifesto. Tips or feedback? Contact me, Zach Everson, securely via email at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com or on Signal at 202.804.2744.

What Cohen’s testimony told us about the Trump Org’s business practices

Yesterday long-time Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee. You probably knew that. Here’s some of what we learned about the Trump Organization’s business practices and how the committee’s investigation may proceed.

D.C. AG subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee

From Washington official subpoenas Trump inaugural committee” by Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman for The New York Times:

The attorney general for the District of Columbia has subpoenaed documents from President Trump’s inaugural committee, the third governmental body to delve into how the fund raised $107 million and spent it to celebrate Mr. Trump’s swearing-in.

As Justin Elliott of ProPublica and Ilya Marritz of WNYC reported earlier, the Trump inaugural committee paid the Trump Hotel D.C. $1.5 million, including $175,000 for event space. That rate, if found to be excessive, could violate tax laws. (The hotel originally tried to charge $3.6 million, according to Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus of The Wall Street Journal).

Racine, of course, is a plaintiff in the emoluments suit against President Trump that has advanced the furthest in the courts. (On March 19, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the president’s appeal of district court rulings that allowed the case to proceed to discovery).

Noteworthy sightings

Believe it or not, former attorney general Jeff Sessions knows how to party, according to Fox News pundit and Trump campaign advisor, Harlan Hill. (Of course, knowing how to party and actually partying are two different skill sets.)

Trump Organization event planner turned HUD region 2 head, Lynne Patton, appeared to lunch at the Trump Hotel D.C. shortly after Rep. Mark Meadows (R–NC) deployed her during the Cohen hearing to debunk allegations that President Trump is racist. Her dining companion was conservative pundit Armstrong Williams. (Patton retweeted the picture.)

History was made when Hill and fellow Trump Hotel D.C. regular Blaze TV’s Eric Bolling finally took a photo together.

Hill made a sexist joke while posing with former editor-in-chief of Breitbart London/UKIP advisor and an associate of Nigel Farage, Raheem Kassam, and Sarah Selip of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs (for 30 years, it has “successfully represented think tanks, associations, public policy organizations, political candidates, political action committees, corporations, book publishers, authors, and foreign governments”).

A press assistant for Sen. Deb Fischer (R–NE), David Stephens, posed for a candid.

The vice president and general manager of WKRG/WFNA TV in Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Jesse Grear, dined at BLT Prime. He wants his Instagram followers to know that he’s a Trump supporter and loves his president.

Interns at the pro-limited-government Heritage Foundation Dwayne Clark, Alexander Hyatt, and Elena Ehrlin did Wednesdays a little differently by patronizing the president’s business.

While CPAC is at the Gaylord National Resort in Maryland, this attendee opted to live like a rock star and stay at the president’s hotel.

In town for the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Christian writer Dorothy Sittler shared this report about the president’s hotel

Other Trump Organization news

House investigations, current status (latest change, Feb. 28, 2019)

  • Financial ServicesSent an inquiry to Deutsche Bank AG on its ties to Trump, according to the bank on Jan. 24.

  • 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.

  • 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. During an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Feb. 10, Schiff said the committee will 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.

  • UPDATED 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,” according to CBS News 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 both Passantino and Dillon. And on Feb. 27, Cohen testified to the committee about those payments and other Trump Organization business practices, which could lead to the committee requesting the president’s tax returns and allegations of possible insurance fraud.

  • 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 hotel calculates its profits, profit statements since the hotel opened in 2016, 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.

  • Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight—The subcommittee 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, Feb. 22, 2019)

Health inspections, current status (latest change, Aug. 10, 2018)

  • ❌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 Aug. 10, 2018

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

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

  • ❌Employee kitchen and in-room dining: five violations on Aug. 10, 2018; two were corrected on site

Correction

The Feb. 18 issue of 1100 Pennsylvania said the Texas GOP spent $708.51 at the Trump Hotel D.C. on Dec. 31, 2018. The funds were actually spent at Trump’s Doral golf course. We regret the error.

One thing that has nothing to do with Trump’s businesses (I think, tough to tell sometimes!)

“What’s next for New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer?” by Molly Langmuir for Elle

Thanks for reading. If you like what you see, tell someone—and support this work by becoming a paying member ($5/month or $50/year). If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, subscribe for yourself at zacheverson.substack.com. Questions? Read our FAQ/manifesto. Tips or feedback? Contact me, Zach Everson, securely via email at 1100Pennsylvania@protonmail.com or on Signal at 202.804.2744.