Question of the Week — Should Trump’s businesses have to answer subpoenas in a case that alleges foreign powers are lining the President’s pockets?
On Tuesday, the attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland issued several subpoenas in a lawsuit alleging President Donald Trump violated the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clauses. The “foreign” emoluments clause generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives. The “domestic” emoluments clause prohibits the president from receiving any “Emolument” from the federal government or the states beyond “a Compensation” for his “Services” as chief executive. Maryland and D.C.’s lawsuit claims that Trump’s ownership stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington violates both clauses because foreign and domestic government officials patronize the hotel. News organizations have reported that groups representing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Philippines, and other government entities have hosted events at Trump’s D.C. hotel since he took office.
Federal agencies, including the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Defense, as well as private entities that include The Trump Organization Inc. and Trump International Hotels Management LLC have received these subpoenas. The subpoenas include demands for the income-tax returns of Trump-related entities; documents regarding finances; profit and loss and revenue statements, projections and estimates, charts of accounts and annual plans; and “the anticipated and actual impact of the 2016 presidential election on finances and projections.”
Trump’s Justice Department will likely challenge the subpoenas. Justice Department lawyers have previously argued that earnings from business activity such as hotel stays don’t qualify as emoluments, and written that any discovery would “be a distraction to the President’s performance of his constitutional duties.”
What do you think? Should Trump’s businesses have to answer the subpoenas so the public can get a complete picture of which foreign and domestic governments are spending at Trump’s Washington hotel, how much they are spending, and where that money is going? Vote and comment below.
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