Report: Oral arguments in Trump's appeal of emoluments suit didn't go well for AGs

Report: Oral arguments in Trump's appeal of emoluments suit didn't go well for AGs

From “Trump hotel emoluments case is at federal appeals court as president asks for it to be thrown out” by Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O’Connell for The Washington Post:

In court Tuesday, Trump administration attorneys told a three-judge panel that Maryland and the District of Columbia have “no authority” to sue the president in his official capacity over payments the president’s business accepts from state and foreign governments.

“There are multiple fundamental defects in this extraordinary suit,” said Justice Department attorney Hashim M. Moopan in the morning session of arguments ongoing in Richmond.

Attorneys for D.C. and Maryland said Trump in his role as president is violating the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution. “The official action is the accepting of emoluments, which is a violation of the Constitution, attorney Loren AliKhan told the court.

O’Connell, who was in court, did not think the hearing went well for the plaintiffs:

Payday lenders convene at Doral. Again.

For the second straight year, the Community Financial Services Association of America, which represents the payday loan industry, is hosting its annual conference at Trump’s Doral golf course.

A round of golf at the meeting costs $450, according to Judd Legum of the Popular Information newsletter. Legum also noted that President Trump recently rescinded rules that will benefit these repeat Trump Doral customers.

Faith leaders reportedly protested the gathering outside an entrance to Doral.

FBI headquarters relocation controversy explained

Today’s episode of PRI and WNYC’s The Takeaway includes a chat I had with host Tanzina Vega. In seven minutes you’ll get a rundown on why the FBI needs a new headquarters—and why President Trump may want that new building to be exactly where the current one is.

“As FBI headquarters crumbles in D.C., President Trump’s conflicts of interests complicate a way forward”

Motorsports celebration returns to Mar-a-Lago

Motorsports celebration The Palm Event is returning to Mar-a-Lago this weekend. It’s expected President Trump will be at his private club too.

The entrants fee for vehicle owners is $350.

Per the event’s website:

The Palm Event is fast becoming the most coveted collector car weekend in the United States. The first two years we were hosted at Donald Trump’s exclusive Mar-a-Lago Club. In year three, The Palm Event expanded to The Colony Hotel, The Breakers Resort and PGA National Resort & Spa as well as other great Palm Beach locations.

We will be returning to the Mar-a-Lago Club and other exclusive Palm Beach venues in 2019.

Here are the companies sponsoring this event at the president’s club (and, yes, The Wall Street Journal kind of stands out).

Noteworthy sightings

Prior to visiting the White House for its official Greek independence day celebration, this gentleman appeared to be staying at the Trump Hotel D.C.

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”) was back at the hotel.

Other Trump Organization news

  • “Deutsche Bank officials have quietly argued to regulators, lawmakers and journalists that Mr. Trump was not a priority for the bank or its senior leaders and that the lending was the work of a single, obscure division. But interviews with more than 20 current and former Deutsche Bank executives and board members, most of them with direct knowledge of the Trump relationship, contradict the bank’s narrative.” by David Enrich for The New York Times

  • “Brazil president’s U.S. visit kicks off with Steve Bannon-sponsored paranoia fest” by Travis Waldron for Huff Post

  • FAA alert points to Trump visit; Lindsey Graham to speak at Mar-a-Lago” by George Bennett for The Palm Beach Post

  • While it looks like Trump will be at Mar-a-Lago for the Palm Beach County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day fundraiser, the press won’t be (per Anthony Man of The South Florida Sun Sentinel):

House investigations, current status (latest changes, March 19, 2019)

  • Financial ServicesSent 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 that the bank is cooperating with her committee and that staffers from the panel have met with bank employees in New York.

  • 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.

  • UPDATED 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 is requesting documents from are Trump Organization EVP Donald Trump Jr.; EVP 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. Barrack said he will cooperate. The committee received “tens of thousands” of documents by the March 18 deadline the letters set for responses.

  • 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. 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. Felix Sater, who was connected to the Trump Moscow project, is scheduled to testify in an open hearing on March 14. Schiff hired a veteran prosecutor experienced with combating Russian organized crime to lead this investigation.

  • 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; 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 the committee requesting the president’s tax returns and 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.

  • 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. 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 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, March 19, 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

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

Rep. Paul Gosar (R–AZ) had a tough take on a teenage egg thrower.

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