William Barr dined

Barr now third Justice Department head under Trump spotted at his D.C. hotel; the president was there at the same time, meeting with donors

Last night Attorney General William Barr was spotted at BLT Prime by Ali Dukakis of ABC News. Also at the hotel then: President Trump, who was meeting with donors to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. There have not been any reports of Trump and Barr interacting at the hotel.

Barr posed for a photo in the hotel’s steakhouse with Brigitte Gabriel. She’s the founder and chair of ACT! for America, which calls itself, “the nation’s largest grassroots national security organization with over 1 million members.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hate group: “ACT for America is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group because it pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam.”

Yesterday marked the first known sighting of Barr at the Trump Hotel D.C. Now three Justice Department heads under Trump—attorneys general Barr and Jeff Sessions, along with acting attorney general Matt Whittaker—have been spotted at the U.S. president’s hotel.


Roger Stone to headline ‘free speech reception’ per invite

Roger Stone will return to the Trump Hotel D.C. on July 3 to headline the “Exclusive Private Demand Free Speech Reception” according to an invite for the event, which appears to have been published within the past two days.

Stone, of course, is subject to a gag order that prevents him from speaking about the criminal charges pending against him in connection with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The president’s former advisor was indicted in January on five counts of false statements, one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, and one count of witness tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.

Peter Boykin is hosting the reception; he’s the leader of Gays for Trump and lost as the Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat in North Carolina last fall. The reception is the kickoff to his Demand Free Speech rally, scheduled for July 6.

Stone and his PR rep did not reply to requests to confirm his participation. Reached via email to verify Stone’s appearance, Boykin replied, “Short of sharing my private chats on Facebook with Roger, or the texts with the organizer of the rally on the 6th. That would be my proof he is coming. Roger will be there.

“Frankly I think it was more Roger finding me,” Boykin said when asked how he got connected with Stone.

The event is capped to 75 people, with tickets costing $275 to $500 per person (the $30 shown in the previous screenshot the invite is just to buy Boykin’s book).

According to the invite, the event is a fundraiser. Boykin explained how the money will be used:

This is a private event it will help raise funds (or at least break even the high cost of Trump hotel) for future trips of myself to meet with members of Congress to speak about what we can do to ensure our free speech extends onto the digital world. I recently lost my verified Twitter account on a accusation of breaking a policy. I feel as if Twitter raped me, and my company as I’m not allowed to exist on their “platform” as I was put on there hit list.

Stone was last seen at the Trump Hotel D.C. on Feb. 2.

On that day—about 26 hours after the judge presiding over his case instructed him not to treat criminal proceedings against him as a “book tour”—he spoke before a paying crowd of a couple hundred supporters, signed books (available for $30), and plugged a website selling “Roger Stone did nothing wrong” t-shirts ($33). (Due to a formatting limitation, select the link to watch the video.)

Around the July Fourth holiday, which includes Stone’s appearance on July 3, the Trump Hotel D.C. requires a three-night minimum stay. Standard room rates for July 3–6 start at $1,529 per night.


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Update: Climate-change deniers’ conference at Trump Hotel D.C. promises two Trump administration officials will speak

Yesterday’s 1100 Pennsylvania reported that the Heartland Institute, a think tank that opposes mainstream climate-change science, will hold a conference on climate change at the Trump Hotel D.C. in July.

We also reported that no U.S. government officials were listed among the speakers. Turns out the event’s schedule advertises that the lunch “keynote session will include two speeches by Trump Administration officials. More details to come.” [H/T Matt Corley of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, involved in two emoluments lawsuits against the president]

Additionally, the schedule promises that the conference’s closing keynote will include a speech by an unnamed member of Congress.


White House advisors support VIP client’s proposed merger

White House economic advisors support T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint, reported Charles Gasparino of Fox Business:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D–CT), the lead plaintiff in an emoluments suit against the president, shared concerns about that endorsement’s possible connection to the Trump Hotel D.C.:


Campaign expenditures

The Republican National Committee spent another $5,769.20 at the Trump Hotel D.C. in April 2019. It’s now disbursed $410,253.77 at the D.C. hotel owned by the head of the party.


Notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most of the people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

Former White House spokesperson Sean Spicer was at his old boss’s hotel last night.

The state chair of the Georgia Young Republicans and a field rep for Republican Brian Kemp’s 2018 successful gubernatorial campaign, Colt Chambers, hung out with a fav. She’s a lobbyist.

Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro congratulated Trump Org EVP Donald Trump Jr. on his new book deal by sharing a photo of them together at her book signing in the Trump Hotel D.C. in July 2018.

Trump’s private banker at Deutsche Bank stayed with the Trump family at the Trump Hotel D.C. during Trump’s inauguration, reported Andrea Bernstein for ProPublica and WNYC’s Trump, Inc.


Other Trump Organization news


President Trump chose not to divest; Americans need to know who’s paying him

Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump did not divest his businesses upon becoming U.S. president. Think that may be a problem? Become an 1100 Pennsylvania member, and support reporting on who’s spending money at the president’s businesses—and what they may be getting in return. Memberships are this newsletter’s sole source of revenue. Select the red “Subscribe now” button and become a member by paying just $5 a month or $50 a year. Thank you.


House investigations, current status (latest change, May 22, 2019)

Financial Services

The committee sent 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 the bank is cooperating with her committee and that staffers from the panel have met with bank employees in New York. On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Deutsche Bank reportedly has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. But judge Edgardo Ramos declined to issue that injunction on May 22, saying that the financial institutions can comply with the lawmakers’ request.

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.

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 requested documents from are Trump Organization EVPs Donald Trump Jr. and 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. The committee received “tens of thousands” of documents by the March 18 deadline the letters set for responses, according to its chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–NY). Among the respondents: Barrack, Steve Bannon, and the National Rifle Association. But more than half of the targets had not replied by April 3, two weeks after the deadline. On that day, the committee authorized subpoenas for former White House aides Bannon, Ann Donaldson, Hope Hicks, Donald McGahn, and Reince Priebus, per Politico. And on May 21, the committee did in fact subpoena Hicks and Donaldson. Attorneys for the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump did not respond to Politico’s inquires if their clients planned to reply. The committee is considering making additional document requests, including to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

The committee interviewed Felix Sater on March 21.

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.

On Feb. 10, Schiff said the committee would 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. In closed-door testimony in March, Cohen claimed the president submitted a false insurance claim regarding a fresco in Trump Tower. Felix Sater, who was connected to the Trump Moscow project, was scheduled to testify in an open hearing on March 27, but that has been postponed.

Schiff hired a veteran prosecutor experienced with combating Russian organized crime to lead this investigation.

The committee is also seeking to interview Trump inauguration organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

On March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 15, that subpoena was issued. All told, the committee reportedly has subpoenaed nine banks for information about President Trump’s finances. President Trump, Don. Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and their businesses sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on April 30, however, in an attempt to prevent them from sharing financial records with Congress. Schiff said Deutsche Bank has been willing to cooperate with lawmakers. On May 3, the Trumps filed for a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. But judge Edgardo Ramos declined to issue that injunction on May 22, saying that the financial institutions can comply with the lawmakers’ request.

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,” 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 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 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. And on April 12 Cummings wrote to the GSA again, this time requesting all monthly reports from the Trump Hotel D.C., information about any liens on the hotel, a slew of correspondence between the Trump Org and GSA, and legal opinions regarding the Trump Org’s compliance with the lease. Cummings gave an April 26 deadline; staffers for the committee and Cummings have not replied to inquiries asking if GSA replied and to what extent.

The committee also has requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records. And on March 11, the committee requested documents on Trump’s businesses from Capital One; the bank “said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply” per Politico. On April 12, Cummings notified committee members that he plans to subpoena Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for his financial statements. President Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Hotel D.C. sued Cummings and Mazars USA on April 22 in an attempt to prevent the release of Trump’s financial records. Cummings postponed the subpoenas’ deadline while the courts address the president’s suit. On May 20, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta denied the president’s motion. Trump appealed the next day. But without further relief, Mazars could start turning over documents as soon as next week.

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 D.C. hotel calculates its profits, profit statements since the hotel opened, 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

On April 3, chairman Richard Neal (D–MA) requested six years of Trump’s personal tax returns, as well as the returns for eight of his businesses (including that of the trust that holds the president’s ownership stake in the D.C. hotel). After the IRS missed Neal’s deadline and then an extension, Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin said he’d make a decision whether or not to release the returns by May 6. He declined to do so. On May 10, the committee subpoenaed Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig, giving them a May 17 deadline to turn over Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin again declined to comply. Neal suspects he’ll know his next move by May 24, but earlier he indicated he’ll take the issue to the federal courts.

Also, the subcommittee on Oversight 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, May 22, 2019)

D.C. and MD attorneys general’s emoluments lawsuit

District court docket, appellate court docket

Official capacity—On Dec. 20, 2018, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it would hear the president’s appeal of district court rulings that allowed the case to proceed to discovery. The appellate court halted discovery in the case. Discovery had started Dec. 3 and was scheduled to run through Aug. 2, 2019, with the AGs having subpoenaed the Trump Organization, including its Scottish golf courses; the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Treasury and the GSA; and the state of Maine. Oral arguments on the appeal occurred on March 19; by all accounts the three-judge panel (all Republican appointees, including one who was a selection of President Trump’s) were skeptical of the AGs’ case. D.C. AG Karl Racine pledged to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Individual capacity—On Dec. 14, Trump’s personal attorneys appealed the denial of their motion to dismiss the case, also to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 19, the AGs replied to Trump’s motion for a stay pending that appeal by voluntarily dismissing the claims against Trump in his “individual capacity to allow the claims against President Trump in his official capacity to move forward expeditiously.” (The AGs only brought suit against Trump in his individual capacity after the judge suggested they do so.) Trump’s personal attorneys, on Dec. 21, opposed the motion to dismiss at the district level, saying the appeals court now has jurisdiction and accusing the AGs of “gamesmanship.”

Democratic senators and representatives’ emoluments lawsuit

District court docket

On Sept. 28, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that the legislators have standing to sue. Trump’s Justice Department attorneys filed an interlocutory appeal on Oct. 22. On Jan. 30, 2019, the plaintiffs’ filed a notice of supplemental authority, notifying the court of the GSA inspector general’s report that criticized GSA for failing to consider if the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease was in compliance with the Constitution after Trump became president. Two days later, the president’s attorneys argued that the IG’s conclusion was not inconsistent with Trump’s argument, but that the judge should ignore that report anyway because the IG has no expertise in interpreting or applying the foreign emoluments clause. On April 30, Sullivan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit. While the president’s attorneys have a supplemental brief due on May 28, on May 14 they filed a motion to stay the proceedings while they appeal Sullivan’s decision. A week later, the lawmakers opposed that motion.

CREW et. al’s emoluments lawsuit

District court docket, appellate court docket

In February 2018, CREW appealed its suit being dismissed for lack of standing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on that motion were held on Oct. 30.

Cork’s unfair competition lawsuit

District court docket, appellate court docket

Judge Richard J. Leon dismissed the case on Nov. 26, 2018, writing “Cork has failed to state a claim for unfair competition under D.C. law.” On Dec. 10, Cork’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal and on Jan. 10, 2019 they submitted a statement of issues to be raised. Cork filed its first appellant brief on May 15, arguing “the District Court failed to recognize the evolving nature of the common law of unfair competition in the District of Columbia and erroneously treated the prior cases as if they were a series of statutes that Appellant had to satisfy to state a claim

Employees’ class-action suit alleging racial discrimination

D.C. superior court (direct link not available, search for case 2017 CA 006517 B)

Two of the three plaintiffs did not appear at a status hearing on Jan. 25, 2019; their cases were moved to arbitration. Via email, their attorney, A.J. Dhali, said his clients did not appear at the hearing because their case already had been moved to arbitration last year. The next status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.


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

Per D.C.’s Department of Health:

  • ❌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


Is the Trump Organization selling merchandise that depicts the White House? (latest change, March 21, 2019)

Yes.


One thing that (probably) has nothing to do with Trump’s businesses

Why American departments are sending social workers to answer 911 calls: Two studies suggest that one in four people shot dead by the police have psychiatric conditions” by The Economist


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