The Swamp Just Got 10 Feet Deeper: Trump’s Conflicts Of Interest Get Even Worse
June 12, 2017
Donald Trump’s White House is profiting from the presidency in even more ways, while breaking ethical boundaries intended to separate Trump from Trump Organization.
Attorneys general in Maryland and Washington DC are suing Trump, alleging that he is violating the foreign and domestic anti-bribery clauses in the Constitution in a suit that could eventually lead to the release of Trump’s tax returns.
Washington Post: “The lawsuit, the first of its kind brought by government entities, centers on the fact that Trump chose to retain ownership of his company when he became president. … The suit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business empire has rendered the president ‘deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors’ and has undermined the integrity of the U.S. political system.”
Washington Post: “If a federal judge allows the case to proceed, Racine and Frosh say, one of the first steps will be to demand through the discovery process copies of Trump’s personal tax returns to gauge the extent of his foreign business dealings. That fight would most likely end up before the Supreme Court, the two said, with Trump’s attorneys having to defend why the returns should remain private.”
In another lawsuit over Trump’s foreign income, the Justice Department argued that Trump was legally allowed to accept payments from foreign governments using an argument panned by a historian.
Washington Post: “The U.S. Department of Justice argued Friday that President Trump’s businesses are legally permitted to accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office, and thus Trump is not in violation of a constitutional clause barring the acceptance of emoluments.”
Politico Magazine Contributor Joshua Zeitz: “Trump’s Defense Of Taking Foreign Money Is Historically Illiterate”
Politico Magazine Contributor Joshua Zeitz: “Justice Department argued precedent for President to accept payments from foreign governments based on agricultural products sold by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, but offered no proof that products were sold to foreign governments.”
Justice Department lawyers also argued that even if Trump’s ownership of his business was illegal, the judicial branch of government could not do anything about it.
New York Times: “The Justice Department asked a federal court late on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit that accused President Trump of violating the Constitution by continuing to own and profit from his businesses, arguing in part that, even if he had broken the law, it would be up to Congress, not a federal judge, to act.”
The head of Trump Hotels, one of Trump Organization’s newest Executives, was given a highly privileged secret pin that lets him bypass the U.S. Secret Service.
Bloomberg: “Eric Danziger wears a pin on his suit lapel that sends a subtle message to the U.S. Secret Service: he’s a Trump man. The 10-sided bauble lets Danziger bypass security inside Trump Tower, a privilege granted to perhaps a dozen people.”
Bloomberg: “Danziger joined Trump Hotels in August 2015, two months after then-candidate Trump alienated chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian — and millions of voters — with his anti-Mexican campaign comments, causing the chefs to bolt from planned restaurants at Trump’s luxury Washington hotel.”
Bloomberg: “Last week, Danziger unveiled his latest effort to take the gold-plated Trump brand down-market with a chain that projects an all-American image. The plan: to open hotels under the name American Idea in, of all places, Mississippi, one of the poorest states in the nation.”
Trump’s personal lawyer is setting up an office in the White House and has represented Russian interests close to Putin in the past.
New York Times: “Marc E. Kasowitz, a New York civil litigator who represented President Trump for 15 years in business and boasts of being called the toughest lawyer on Wall Street, has suddenly become the field marshal for a White House under siege. He is a personal lawyer for the president, not a government employee, but he has been talking about establishing an office in the White House complex where he can run his legal defense.”
New York Times: “In recent days, Mr. Kasowitz has advised White House aides to discuss the inquiry into Russia’s interference in last year’s election as little as possible, two people involved said.”
A Putin-tied oligarch Olg Deripaska and a Russian state-owned bank were among Mark Kasowitz’s past clients.
Washington Post: “Marc E. Kasowitz’s clients include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to President Vladimir Putin and has done business with Trump’s former campaign manager. Kasowitz also represents Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, U.S. court records show.”
A business partner of Trump and Jared Kushner is in the running to win a $2 billion government contract to build new FBI headquarters.
New York Daily News: “Trump And Kushner business partner might get $2 billion contract for new FBI headquarters”
ABC News: “Vornado Realty Trust, a giant New York real estate firm whose founder and chairman, Steven Roth, is a longtime friend of and occasional adviser to Trump, is one of three finalists for the rights to develop a new FBI headquarters and campus in the Washington, D.C., region.”
ABC News: “Vornado and The Trump Organization are jointly invested in two buildings — one in Manhattan and another in San Francisco. Vornado is also in the midst of active negotiations with the Kushner Company about the future of a troubled investment by Kushner’s family in a New York City skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue, according to a Kushner Co. spokesman.”