The Trump Organization will be subpoenaed on Tuesday after the Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia announced Monday that they were preparing paperwork that would be filed in court the following day, CBS News is reporting. Also subpoenaed will be the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), multiple government agencies and several people, entities, and businesses directly or indirectly associated with Donald Trump.
The two Attorneys General would like to determine if Trump, through payments made to his business entities, violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Specifically, they’re looking at whether taxpayer stays at Trump-branded hotels in the Washington area constitute such violations, and if any foreign entities with interests contrary to those of the United States helped contribute to the Trump Organization’s bottom line.
In addition, the Attorneys General are looking into three questions. First, they want to know if foreign governments are spending money at Trump-branded hotels (and if so, which governments). Second, they want to know if that money is going to Donald Trump himself. And third, they want to know if taxpayer-funded stays at Trump-branded hotels are affecting the hospitality industry at large in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.
According to the Associated Press, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, and the IRS have all either spent money at Trump-branded hotels or may have information about Trump’s finances that may be relevant to the case.
Two attorneys general intend to subpoena the Trump Organization and the IRS https://t.co/fFkUVEJWhr
— TIME (@TIME) December 4, 2018
Tuesday’s subpoenas will be a part of an ongoing lawsuit against Donald Trump and his related entities, alleging that the former real estate developer is profiting financially from the office of the president. If so, he could be in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. As CBS News reported in July, Maryland and DC both sued Trump earlier this year, alleging he has violated the Constitution’s provision that no holder of a public office can receive “emoluments,” or payment from employment in such a post.
However, the issue had never come up before a court before Trump, and the Constitution is vague on what the word “emoluments” even means. In his July ruling, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte defined emoluments as “profits from private transactions, even those involving services given at fair market value,” marking the first time a court had ever done so.
Trump’s attorneys continue to insist that any money his organization makes from stays at his hotels are not “emoluments” as defined by the Constitution. Further, they argue that subjecting a sitting president to discovery, or the pre-trial period in which attorneys for both sides go through all of the facts, is detrimental to his overseeing his duties as president.