Judge Advances Trump Lawsuit to Next Level

Tax March Washington, DC in front of the Trump International Hotel. Courtesy of Ted Eytan.

A federal judge in Maryland gave permission for lawyers in Maryland and Washington, DC to issue subpoenas in a lawsuit that claims President Donald Trump used his luxury hotel in DC to make money via his role as US President, violating the emoluments clause of the US Constitution.

The attorneys general in DC and Maryland say they are prepared to serve as many as 20 companies and government agencies with subpoenas this week. This is the first time in US history that a lawsuit claiming a president as violated anti-corruption clauses as reached the stage of discovery.

Another, similar lawsuit brought by Democratic legislators got past a first step in federal court in Washington, and two lawsuits filed in New York were thrown out of court. That decision is being appealed. None of these cases got to the level of discovery, yet.

State and federal government agencies and customers and competitors of the Trump International Hotel, which is right down the street from the White House, will be getting subpoenas, according to General Brian Frosh, Maryland attorney general. Even if lawyers from the Department of Justice are able to stop the case, Frosh says that will only delay the inevitable, but not derail the process.

“They have a very high burden to win on a writ of mandamus, I don’t think they can meet that standard here,” Frosh said. “They’ve done everything they possibly can to stop us from getting discovery.”

A writ of mandamus is a process that can halt the legal proceedings by claiming they are illegal or improper.

Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine described the emoluments clauses in the Constitution as “our nation’s original anti-corruption laws.”

Gail Nussbaum

Gail Nussbaum has been involved in politics and diplomacy for over 15 years. Her interest in foreign relations, economics and budget policy has led her to her position as fiscal policy writer at Left Justified. Gail can be contacted at gailnussbaum(at)leftjustified.com.

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