Donald Trump’s personal attorneys are trying to stop evidence collection in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the revenue coming from the president’s Washington D.C. hotel.
The lawsuit, brought on by the attorneys general from Maryland and Washington D.C., alleges that the president has been receiving illegal gifts through the Trump International Hotel located in the nation’s capital. They also claim that foreign dignitaries stay at the Trump hotel to flatter the president and get closer to him, according to court filings first reported by CNN.
The attorneys general issued subpoenas to over a dozen business groups operating under the umbrella of the Trump Organization as well as 18 business entities that compete with the hotel. In an earlier court filing by Trump’s personal lawyer, his legal team argued that the case would burden the president due to the amount of time he would “need to review the flurry of discovery requests” of the subpoenas.
Prosecutors in the case stress that the subpoenas are not looking for any information from the president himself.
“At this time we are not seeking information from President Trump in his individual capacity and we have not issued any notices of deposition to date,” a spokesperson from the office of D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine told CNN.
The federal judge allowed the case against Trump’s business empire to move forward, but did not rule on the possibility of dismissing the lawsuit against the president personally.
But now, the Justice Department is appealing the judge’s ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As CNN noted, the move could allow Trump’s lawyers to ask for a pause in the evidence collection.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who has launched several investigations into the Trump administration, slammed the president’s attorneys for trying to pause the case.
“I think they may have violated Lewis Carroll’s copyright on ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ” Frosh told CNN. He added that Trump’s lawyers are essentially arguing that the “president’s immune from the requirements of the emoluments clause” of the Constitution, which prohibits members of the government from receiving gifts from foreign states without the consent of Congress.
The Trump International Hotel located blocks away from the White House opened shortly before the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that the people who stay at the hotel influence his decision-making in office.
This week it was reported that the non-profit organization that planned Trump’s 2017 inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space. It was also reported that the president’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, was involved in negotiating how much the D.C. hotel charged for room rentals before Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
The discovery came as Trump and his administration faces increasing legal battles over his business dealings. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s inaugural committee was under investigation for financial abuses. The investigators are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from people trying to seek influence in the president’s administration.
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