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Subpoenas Coming Soon In Trump Emoluments Lawsuit

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., is at the center of a lawsuit brought by the governments of Maryland and the District of Columbia against President Trump, arguing that his stake in the hotel violates the Constitution's emoluments clauses.
Alex Brandon

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia are preparing to move forward with subpoenas for President Trump's businesses in their lawsuit alleging he is in violation of the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clauses.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte gave the order for discovery in the case to proceed to D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who have accused Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency. The list of subpoena targets will be released on Tuesday.

"We will now serve subpoenas to third-party organizations and federal agencies to gather the necessary evidence to prove that President Trump is violating the Constitution's emoluments clauses — our nation's original anti-corruption laws," Racine said in a statement.

The lawsuit has zeroed in on the Trump International Hotel, only blocks from the White House, and whether the president has profited from both foreign and state government spending at the hotel.

There have been questions about Trump's legal and business entanglements since he took office, which have been compounded by his refusal to release his personal tax returns and hesitation to sever ties with his business empire.

The Trump hotel is the Old Post Office building and is leased from the federal government. The lease with the General Services Administration explicitly says that no elected official of the government of the United States may hold that lease.

Last month, Messite agreed that the lawsuit against Trump could go ahead, marking the first time an emoluments case has ever gone to trial in U.S. history. Trump and the Justice Department had requested a stay.

Democratic lawmakers are also pursuing an emoluments lawsuit against the president, arguing that his hotels and other businesses profit from spending by foreign governments who are trying to curry favor with the Trump administration.

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Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politicsand is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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