The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia issued subpoenas for financial records and other documents from as many as 13 of President Trump’s private entities Tuesday as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging that his business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments.
The subpoenas seek details on some of the most closely held secrets of Trump’s presidency: Which foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization money? How much? And for what?
All of the documents — among them marketing materials targeted to foreign embassies, credit card receipts and restaurant reservation logs — relate to Trump’s D.C. hotel, which is at the center of the case because of events foreign governments have held there and the federal lease that allows the business to operate.
The lawsuit is based on the little-used emoluments clauses in the Constitution, which bar presidents from taking improper payments from foreign governments or individual states. Trump has argued that he is not in violation, saying that the Constitution intended to ban bribes, not regular business transations. The Trump Organization also donates profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.
The Justice Department, which is defending Trump in the case, declined to comment.
Maryland’s Brian E. Frosh (D) and the District’s Karl A. Racine (D) are seeking documents related to the president’s company, including the trust that holds his personal assets. They also are trying to view documents from a slew of competing Washington hotels and restaurants. Their goal is to show Trump’s property is unfairly siphoning business from competitors, the offices of the two attorneys general announced Tuesday.