- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Maryland and the District of Columbia announced subpoenas Tuesday to get a look at the Trump Organization’s tax returns, as part of a lawsuit claiming President Trump is violating the Constitution.

The two jurisdictions said they’re subpoenaing the Trump Organization and other parts of the president’s business empire, as well as five federal departments or agencies, demanding details of Mr. Trump’s business dealings related to his Trump International Hotel in Washington.

They are also subpoenaing 18 companies that compete with the hotel, presumably in a bid to find out whether they’ve suffered by having to win business in a market where the president of the country owns a property.

Among the demands to the Trump Organization are “all of your state and federal income tax returns, including all schedules, attachments, and other forms or supporting documentation completed or submitted with the tax returns.”

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh are pursuing a case arguing Mr. Trump’s continued stake in the hotel means he’s earning profits, or emoluments, from foreign governments who do business there, as well as from the federal government which is leasing the building the hotel is in.

A federal judge, Peter J. Messitte, a Clinton appointee to the bench, has ruled that the lawsuit can proceed and approved a discovery request giving the state and the city a chance to pry loose documents to discover more about the president’s businesses.

The Treasury, Defense, Commerce and Agriculture departments will all be subpoenaed, as will the General Services Administration, which handles most government property, including the Old Post Office building the hotel now occupies.

Among 13 Trump business entities to be subpoenaed are the Trump Organization itself, several Trump International Hotels corporations and the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust.

Mr. Trump, breaking with tradition, has declined to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing IRS audit.

Democratic opponents have been desperate to get a look at them, believing they would show conflicts of interest or other politically damaging details.

When he became president Mr. Trump did not divest from the Trump Organization, but did turn day-to-day operations over to some of his children.

His political opponents say that means he still profits from business done at his hotels, including from foreign governments and U.S. entities looking to curry favor by patronizing his property.

That, they say, violates the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, which prohibit the president from profiting from a foreign government or from the U.S. government, beyond his salary.

Mr. Trump had said he would contribute profits from governments back to the government to avoid a conflict.

One of the subpoena requests Tuesday specifically asks about those payments, such as the $151,470 made on Feb. 21.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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