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President: Donald Trump

Donald Trump's presidency is unique in that he and his family have continued to pursue their business interests despite being in a position to influence policy in order to gain favorable treatment.

Though this does not imply he has done so, it still presents conflicts of interest to a degree not seen before in any president.

In addition, some of his businesses and those of his close associates are under investigation for fraudulent or criminal activity.

In this section we report on events related to extra-presidential activities of Trump and personal associates.

Related Issues

Trump's Enrichment
Donald Trump Presidency
Trump Impeachment

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Donations to Trump lawsuits go mostly to Trump

2020-Nov-11By: Barry Shatzman

Did you contribute to help Donald Trump pay for his legal challenges to the 2020 election?

We'll answer that. You didn't.

If your donation to the Election Defense Fund wasn't in the thousands of dollars, none of the money actually went to that fund.

Most went to Save America - a Political Action Committee set up earlier this week by Trump. The rest went to the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Even if your donation was large, most of your money still went to those other organizations.

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Trump has COVID - Timeline and who it affects

2020-Oct-02  (Updated: 2020-Oct-10)By: Barry Shatzman

President Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump is known to have first tested positive on Thursday, Oct. 1, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The timeline is unclear because Trump announced the results of a nasal passage test Friday morning. In a Thursday evening interview, Trump told Fox News he had taken the test but did not yet have the results.

Yet White House protocol is to administer that type of test only after a positive rapid test - meaning that he would have known he tested positive prior to the interview.

The timing is important because of Trump's exposures

The Trump administration has not provided information on whether Trump previously had tested positive, or when his last negative test was.

Several events that took place around the same time make that information relevant:

Saturday, Sept. 26
Just 4 days before testing positive, Trump held a White House ceremony to announce his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Later that night he attended an outdoor rally in Pennsylvania.

Sunday, Sept. 27
Trump hosted a ceremony at the White House for Gold Star families.

Sunday - Tuesday, Sept. 27 - 29
Trump prepared for his debate against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Tuesday, Sept. 29
Trump traveled to Cleveland to debate Biden. Most of Trump's contingent did not wear masks.

Wednesday Sept. 30
Trump attended a rally in Minnesota - where advisor Hope Hicks experienced symptoms of COVID.

Thursday Oct. 1
The White House claimed this is when they officially learned that Hicks experienced COVID symptoms and later had tested positive.

He then proceeded to a fundraiser in New Jersey.

According to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the administration learned of Hicks' COVID-19 diagnosis "right as Marine One was taking off" for Trump's trip to New Jersey. Even if true, it means the White House knew by then that Trump had been exposed to coronavirus.

At some time during that day, Trump would take both the rapid test and the nasal passage test - with both tests indicating that he had COVID-19.

Friday, Oct. 2
Trump announces in a 1 a.m. Twitter post that he and Melania Trump tested positive for COVID. Trump is taken to Walter Reed Medical Center

Sunday, Oct. 4
Trump left the hospital to wave to supporters assembled outside.

Monday, Oct. 5
Trump was discharged from Walter Reed and returned to the White House.

Saturday, Oct. 10
Trump resumed campaign activities.

Many of Trump's close associates test positive

Trump comes in contact with many people, so it is unknown how many he may have infected.

Many in his inner circle who helped him prepare for the debate or attended one or more of the other events have tested positive. They include:

o Hicks
o Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway
o Trump advisor Stephen Miller
o White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
o Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
o Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
o Sen. Mike Lee
o Sen. Thom Tillis

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Trump profits from Secret Service

2020-Sep-20By: Barry Shatzman

Since Donald Trump became president in 2017, properties he owns have charged the government more than $1 million in private transactions - including for times the properties were not even open.

For much of the time charged, there is no indication that Trump or any of his family members were present.

The information comes from Secret Service receipts and invoices obtained by the Washington Post.

Trumps say government stays for free

The Trump Organization says it charges the Secret Service less than it could get from other customers.

Yet this differs from statements by Eric Trump - who runs the day-to-day business of Trump's companies.

"They stay at our properties for free," Eric Trump said. He added that they do charge the government the "cost for housekeeping, effectively, because you actually have to legally charge government something."

Receipts and invoices contradict Trumps

And that differs from the documents obtained from the Secret Service.

At Mar-a-Lago, the Secret Service was charged a $650 nightly room rate.

At Trump's Bedminster resort in New Jersey, they paid $17,000 monthly for a 3-bedroom cottage.

The records obtained account for only some of Trump's properties the Secret Service has stayed at.

The Secret Service is exempt from spending limits while protecting the president.

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Appeals court reinstates states' emoluments lawsuit

2020-May-14By: Barry Shatzman

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit claiming that Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by using the presidency to enrich himself.

The lawsuit was filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

In November 2018, a federal judge rejected a challenge by Trump, allowing the suit to continue and allowing the states to demand financial documents from Trump and his businesses.

In July 2019, a 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision - ruling the states lacked standing.

The full appeals court heard the case in December 2019, and this ruling reinstates it.

President has duty to obey laws

Writing for the majority, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote that even Executive Branch officials "have acknowledged there is considerable debate" on whether Trump's lease of his Washington, D.C. hotel could be considered to violate the emoluments clauses.

Motz wrote that Trump cannot claim that business records sought affects Trump's powers as president.

"The President has not explained, nor do we see, how requests pertaining to spending at a private restaurant and hotel threaten any Executive Branch prerogative, she wrote" She add that the President, in fact, has a duty to obey the law.

"The duty to obey these particular laws - the Constitution's Emoluments Clauses - flows from the President's status as head of the Executive Branch, but this duty to obey neither constitutes an official executive prerogative nor impedes any official executive function," she wrote.

Judges ruling to reinstate the lawsuit were:

JUDGEAPPOINTED BY
Diana Gribbon MotzBill Clinton
Roger GregoryBill Clinton
Robert B. KingBill Clinton
Barbara Milano KeenanBarack Obama
James A. WynnBarack Obama
Albert DiazBarack Obama
Henry FloydBarack Obama
Stephanie ThackerBarack Obama
Pamela A. HarrisBarack Obama


Judges in favor of granting Trump's request to dismiss the suit were:

JUDGEAPPOINTED BY
Paul NiemeyerGeorge H.W. Bush
J. Harvie Wilkinson IIIRonald Reagan
G. Steven AgeeGeorge W. Bush
A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr.Donald Trump
Allison Jones RushingDonald Trump
Julius RichardsonDonald Trump


There also are two additional lawsuits regarding Trump and emoluments.

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Democrats' emoluments lawsuit dismissed

2020-Feb-07  (Updated: 2020-Oct-13)By: Barry Shatzman

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a lawsuit by Congressional Democrats claiming that President Donald Trump has profited from his businesses while president. The Constitution's foreign emoluments clause requires profits such as this be approved by Congress.

In several rulings through June 2019, The District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected Trump's requests to dismiss the lawsuit. That meant that the plaintiffs could subpoena records of Trump's dealings with foreign governments.

The supbpoenas were put on hold, however, until it was decided whether the members of Congress could use the court system in this case.

This ruling answered that question - overturning the district court. Judges Thomas Griffith, Karen Henderson, and David Tatel concluded that Congress lacked standing to sue.

"Our conclusion is straightforward because the members - 29 senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives - do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the president's acceptance of foreign emoluments," they wrote.

Update 2020-Oct-13: The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that ruling - effectively ending the lawsuit.

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Senate acquits Trump of impeachment charges

2020-Feb-05By: Barry Shatzman

The Senate has acquitted President Donald Trump of both articles of impeachment the House of Representatives had charged him with.

The vote was entirely along party lines, with the exception of Mitt Romney, a Republican who voted to convict Trump on the first article - Abuse of Power.

For Trump to have been removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate would have had to vote to convict him on either article.

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Senate blocks impeachment witnesses and documents

2020-Jan-21By: Barry Shatzman

During the Senate's first stage of the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, the Republican majority rejected Democratic requests to subpoena witnesses and documents.

The requests were submitted as amendments to the the resolution specifying the rules that the Senate trial would follow. The rejected requests included...

To subpoena White House documents (Amendment 1284)
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

To subpoena State Department documents (Amendment 1285)
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

To subpoena Office of Management and Budget (OMB) documents (Amendment 1286)
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

Issuing a subpoena for testimony of Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (Amendment 1287)
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

To subpoena Department of Defense (DoD) documents.
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

Issuing a subpoena for testimony of Robert Blair and Michael Duffey (Amendment 1289).
Blair is an advisor to Mulvaney. Duffey is an appointed OMB official.
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

Provide for fair handling of evidence (Amendment 1290): .
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

Issuing a subpoena for testimony of former National Security Advisor John Bolton (Amendment 1291).
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

To allow motions to subpoena witnesses and documents after the question period (Amendment 1292): .
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

To allow additional time for responses to motions (Amendment 1293): .
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

To require that the Chief Justice to rule on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents (Amendment 1294): .
Click here to view the vote to table the amendment (a Yes vote is a vote to defeat the amendment).

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House sets stage for Senate impeachment trial

2020-Jan-15By: Barry Shatzman

The House of Representatives has approved a resolution to transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment adopted in December.

The resolution also named the impeachment managers who will prosecute the case against President Trump once the Senate trial begins.

The impeachment managers named in the bill are...

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House votes to impeach Trump

2019-Dec-18  (Updated: 2019-Dec-20)By: Barry Shatzman

The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

The House's action consisted of two separate votes - each approving one of two article of impeachment (even though the articles are contained in a single resolution).

The first article accuses Trump of withholding $391 of military aid to Ukraine to help that country defend itself from Russia - unless the Ukrainian government agreed to provide help to Trump with his re-election campaign.

The second article accuses Trump of obstructing the Congressional investigation by refusing to provide subpoenaed documents and by instructing members of his administration to not testify.

Each resolution had been approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 13.

The committee also released a 169-page report detailing the "multiple federal crimes" Trump is accused of.

Technically Trump is not yet impeached

In addition to House approval, impeachment requires formally notifying the Senate of the approved articles and naming impeachment managers to prosecute the case in the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she is considering holding the approved articles until the House knows what a Senate trial would consist of.

The Constitution grants the Senate the "sole power to try all impeachments", effectively allowing the majority party in the Senate to create the rules for a trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would coordinate trial procedures with White House counsel.

He also said "... we all know how it's gonna end. There is no chance the president's gonna be removed from office."



Senate rules require senators to take an oath to "do impartial justice".

If there is a Senate trial

Once the House takes the required steps (if they do), Trump will be impeached, and a trial will be held in the Senate. If two-thirds of Senators vote to convict Trump, he would be removed from office.

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House committee approves articles of impeachment

2019-Dec-13By: Barry Shatzman

The House Judiciary Committee has approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

The articles were drafted after the House Intelligence Committee interviewed diplomats involved in U.S. policy regarding Ukraine.

Charges include abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

The two articles are contained in a single resolution.

The first article accuses Trump of withholding $391 of military aid to Ukraine to help that country defend itself from Russia - unless the Ukrainian government agreed to provide help to Trump with his re-election campaign.

The second article accuses Trump of obstructing the Congressional investigation by refusing to provide subpoenaed documents and by instructing members of his administration to not testify.

Vote followed party affiliation

The committee vote was 23-17 to approve the articles. Every Democrat on the committee voted yes. Every Republican voted no. The articles next will be voted on by the full House of Representatives.

If the House votes to approve the articles, Trump will be impeached, and a trial will be held in the Senate. If two-thirds of Senators vote to convict Trump, he would be removed from office.

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Diplomats link Trump to Ukraine extortion

2019-Nov-14By: Rob Dennis

The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine linked President Donald Trump directly to an effort to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian president announced he was investigating Trump's political opponent.

In the first day of public impeachment hearings against Trump, acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor testified that two State Department officials overheard Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland speaking with Trump about coercing Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponent.

George Kent, the deputy chief of mission in Kyiv from 2015 to 2018, also testified. One of the officials believed to have overheard the conversation, David Holmes, is scheduled to testify to the House in a closed session.

It is unusual for an ambassador to call the president directly, and having such a sensitive conversation on an unsecured cell phone in a public place in Ukraine could pose a security risk, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Taylor's and Kent's testimony links Trump directly to the effort to urge Ukraine to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump also spoke directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the matter, according to a memorandum of the phone call released by the White House.

As part of that effort, the Trump administration withheld military aid approved by Congress to help Ukraine battle Russian forces. The aid eventually was released soon after news of it being withheld was made public.

"I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor texted Sondland over the summer, expressing alarm about an irregular policy channel in Ukraine that included Sondland, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, and others.

In his Oct. 15 deposition, Kent had testified to debunk various conspiracy theories that have been promulgated by Giuliani and media outlets that rarely are critical of Trump.

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House approves impeachment inquiry procedures

2019-Oct-31By: Barry Shatzman

The House of Representatives has voted to formalize the procedures for its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The inquiry officially commenced in September. Trump has said he would not cooperate with the investigation unless the House held a vote to authorize the inquiry. He also complained about depositions taking not taking place in public. He called the inquiry "unconstitutional".

The Constitution states that the House shall have the sole Power of Impeachment, allowing the House to set its own impeachment rules. Depositions rarely take place in public to avoid one person's testimony from influencing another's.

Under the agreed-upon procedures, the House Intelligence Committee will conduct public hearings beginning on Nov. 13.

The committee's chair may subpoena any witnesses or documents deemed relevant to the investigation.

The committee's ranking member may ask to subpoena any witnesses or documents. However, the ranking member must provide an explanation of the relevance. The request must be approved by the committee chair or by a majority vote of the committee.

Once the hearings are complete, the committee will report its findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to file articles of impeachment.

If one or more articles of impeachment is approved by a majority vote in the House, the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove Trump from office.

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House begins impeachment inquiry into Trump

2019-Sep-25By: Rob Dennis

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that the House of Representatives will begin a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The announcement came after it emerged that Trump had pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, and sent his personal attorney to do the same, all while blocking nearly $400 million in military aid to that country.

The six House committees already conducting investigations into the president's conduct - Judiciary, Intelligence, Oversight and Government Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, and Ways and Means - will proceed under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi said.

Much remains unclear

Pelosi did not say whether the full House will vote on a resolution to formalize the impeachment probe, as previous impeachment inquiries have done. Nor did she describe in detail how the multiple investigations will proceed.

If articles of impeachment are drafted, it's unclear whether they will focus exclusively on Trump's conduct related to Ukraine or include a wide array of other allegations.

If a majority of representatives approve one or more impeachment articles that might be drafted, Trump then would be tried in the Senate. At least 67 senators (two-thirds of the Senate) would need to vote to convict the president in order to remove him from office.

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Appeals court: Emoluments lawsuit must be heard

2019-Sep-13  (Updated: 2019-Sep-18)By: Barry Shatzman

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit claiming that Donald Trump is violating the Constitution's emoluments clause by continuing to profit from his properties - at the expense of competitors.

The lawsuit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on behalf of restaurant owners. Several foreign diplomats have said they would patronize Trump properties rather than those of competitors, the lawsuit claims.

In one instance shortly after the 2016 presidential election, a foreign government switched their event's venue from a competitor to a Trump-owned establishment.

A district court judge dismissed the case in 2017, writing that the restaurant owners did not have standing to sue because they did not rule out alternative explanations for losing business to Trump.

In reinstating the case, the appeals court ruled that the restaurant owners did in fact have standing, in that they claim actual harm and there is a "substantial likelihood" that it is caused by Trump's actions.

The problem with dismissing the case, the appeals court judges wrote, is that it would require the restaurant owners to prove both the harm and the cause before the actual trial.

"Under the standard applied by the district court, it would be virtually impossible to plead a competitive injury, because a defendant would defeat standing merely by pointing to the possibility that customers' preference for defendant's products or services was attributable to something other than the defendant's illegal conduct."

The two judges who ruled to reinstate the case - Pierre Laval and Christopher Droney - also addressed the opinion of dissenting justice John M. Walker that the lawsuit was politically motivated.

"While it is certainly possible that these lawsuits are fueled in part by political motivations, we do not understand the significance of that fact... while the existence of a political motivation for a lawsuit does not supply standing, nor does it defeat standing."

The ruling allows the case to be heard in the district court.

There also are two additional lawsuits regarding Trump and emoluments.

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Appeals court dismisses emoluments suit against Trump

2019-Jul-29  (Updated: 2019-Aug-28)By: Barry Shatzman

A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by using the presidency to enrich himself.

The lawsuit was filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

In November 2018, a federal judge rejected a challenge by Trump, allowing the suit to continue and allowing the states to demand financial documents from Trump and his businesses.

In overturning that decision, the three-judge panel of justices Paul Niemeyer, A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., and Dennis Shedd ruled that the states lacked standing to file the suit.

That doesn't end the issue. The plaintiff states have requested a hearing by the full appeals court. Whoever loses that decision likely will appeal to the Supreme Court.

There also are two additional lawsuits regarding Trump and emoluments.

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Trump suggests extending his term

2019-May-05By: (External links)

Trump: 2 years of my term were 'stollen'

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Manafort indicted on NY fraud charges

2019-Mar-13By: Rob Dennis

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager has been indicted by a New York grand jury in connection with a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

Paul Manafort was charged with 16 counts including residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

The indictment was unsealed shortly after Manafort was sentenced to a total of 7-1/2 years in prison in two federal cases.

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Former Trump attorney lays out possible Trump crimes

2019-Feb-27  (Updated: 2019-Mar-07)By: Rob Dennis

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer has provided evidence that Trump may have broken campaign finance law, and indicated he may have committed other crimes as well.

Testifying before the House Oversight CommitteeMichael Cohen provided copies of two checks that he said were repayments for hush money he paid to cover up Trump's alleged sexual liaison with pornographic actress Stephanie Clifford.

One of the checks was signed by Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg - the Trump Organization's chief financial officer.

The other was signed by Trump.

Payments possibly violated federal campaign laws

Cohen said Trump directed him to make payments to Clifford (who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels) and to Karen McDougal "for the principal purpose of influencing the [2016] election."

The payments would violate campaign finance laws if the money came from a corporation (in this case Trump's) and was used as part of his campaign.

The New York Times later reported that Trump signed at least six checks to Cohen while he was president.

More information from Cohen's testimony

Cohen also testified that Trump inflated and deflated the value of his assets in order to lower tax bills and insurance premiums and to obtain a bank loan, which might subject him to charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The hearing largely steered clear of matters related to the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, which is being handled by the House and Senate intelligence committees as well as Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Still, Cohen did provide some new information:

o He said Trump knew in advance from his longtime adviser Roger Stone about WikiLeaks' release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails.

o He said Trump's lawyers changed his prepared testimony to Congress about how long negotiations continued for a Trump tower in Moscow. He also said Trump met with him at the White House to discuss his upcoming testimony. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timing of the Moscow deal.

o He said he briefed Trump Jr. and Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump about 10 times about the Moscow project, which appears to contradict Trump Jr.'s testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

o He said the idea to provide a penthouse suite to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the proposed Moscow tower came from Trump associate Felix Sater.

o He said he has never been to the Czech Republic. A series of raw intelligence reports compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele claimed that Cohen met secretly with Kremlin representatives in Prague in the summer of 2016. Cohen has long denied the allegation. However, he previously told the Wall Street Journal that he had been to Prague back in 2001, and said something similar to Mother Jones and the Washington Post. Lawmakers did not ask Cohen to explain the discrepancy.

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Law requires Trump to disclose taxes. But go make him.

2019-Feb-26  (Updated: 2019-Feb-28)By: Barry Shatzman

The House of Representatives is looking at ways to examine President Donald Trump's tax returns. The law says he can't refuse. But Trump's returns still might never see the light of day.

Why do we care?

Providing a tax history during an election provides a way for citizens to consider possible conflicts of interest a potential president might have.

Tax records also can shine light on illegal activity.

What about Trump?

Campaigning for and being president have been profitable to Trump in several ways. Much of that profit - especially that since he was inaugurated - could violate the Constitution's emoluments clauses.

Trump has not provided his tax records - making him the first president or major presidential candidate in recent history not to do so.

Trump repeatedly has said he can't release his taxes because they are being audited. However, nothing prevents someone from disclosing their own taxes - regardless of an audit. And in Congressional testimony on Feb. 27, Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen said he does not believe Trump's taxes are under audit in the first place.

How would Congress obtain his taxes? They simply ask.

The Internal Revenue Code allows the House House Ways and Means Committee to obtain the tax returns of any taxpayer from the Treasury Department - which is required by law to comply.

By default, the tax returns must stay within the committee. The committee can release them to the rest of Congress if there's a legitimate reason.

For the public to see them, they would need to be released by a committee that deals with taxes - meaning the Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

But no guarantee of release

While the law provides no basis for an administration to refuse a request - and no previous administration has - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly has been working on plans to keep Trump's taxes hidden.

If the Treasury Department refuses to release Trump's returns, the House could subpoena them. If the subpoena is ignored, the House could sue. A court case - which ultimately might be resolved by the Supreme Court - could take years to conclude.

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House to investigate possible Trump money laundering

2019-Feb-07By: Rob Dennis

The House Intelligence Committee will investigate "credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise" involving President Donald Trump and his associates.

It is one of five threads that will be explored by the committee as part of a re-launched investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Republicans made up the majority of the committee last year, and shut down the investigation then. They also issued a report (without involvement from committee Democrats) claiming Russia didn't interfere to help Trump.

This contradicted reports from the intelligence community and from the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Investigations revived after Democrats became majority party in House

Rep. Adam Schiff, who took over as chair of the committee in January, announced the scope of the forthcoming probe on Feb. 6.

The investigation will include:

o The degree of the Russian government's operations to influence the U.S. political process during and since the 2016 election.

o Links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with Donald Trump's campaign, administration, or business interests.

o Whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.

o Whether Trump, his family, or his associates have been vulnerable to foreign exploitation or coercion, or have sought to influence U.S. government policy for the benefit of foreign interests.

o Whether any actors - foreign or domestic - sought to impede authorized investigations into these matters, including those in the Congress.

Schiff also said he will give Mueller transcripts of interviews with more than 50 witnesses already conducted by the committee. The special counsel would need the official transcripts if he plans to charge more witnesses with lying to the committee.

Two of Trump's associates - Michael Cohen and Roger Stone - both were charged with making false statements to Congress because of their testimony to the committee. 

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Trump Foundation to dissolve under investigation

2018-Dec-18By: (External links)

Trump Foundation To Dissolve Amid New York AG's Investigation

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Trump defends Saudis while taking their money

2018-Dec-10By: Rob Dennis

Even after Congress accused the Saudi Arabian government of murdering Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and the CIA came to the same conclusion, President Trump continued to defend the Saudis.

Meanwhile, Trump's businesses have raked in Saudi cash.

Saudis have spent millions on Trump hotels

The month after Trump's election, lobbyists representing the Saudi Arabian government spent more than a quarter-million dollars over a three-month period at Trump's hotel in Washington, D.C.

The bookings, from December 2016 to February 2017, accounted for an estimated 500 nights at the luxury hotel, the Washington Post reported. They were part of an arrangement in which military veterans were offered a free trip to Washington, D.C.

The veterans were brought there to lobby against a law that allowed victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue the Saudi government.

Other Trump hotels also have benefited from Saudi customers.

o Saudi bookings at Trump Chicago increased from 81 "room-nights" in the first half of 2016 to 218 in the first half of 2018.

o At Trump's hotel on Manhattan's Central Park West (which the president manages but doesn't own), a single stay in March 2018 by Saudi customers traveling with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman helped turn a profit for the quarter.

Transactions like these have fueled lawsuits and questions about whether Trump's business interests are influencing his foreign policy.

Saudi money comes from more than hotels

Trump has a long history of lucrative business deals with Saudis:

o In 1991, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal agreed to buy Trump's 280-foot yacht for $20 million at a time when Trump was "teetering on personal bankruptcy and scrambling to raise cash" because of failed casino projects.

o In 1995, Prince Alwaleed joined other investors to pay $325 million for Trump's Plaza Hotel in New York, which was losing money at the time.

o In 2001, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid $4.5 million for the entire 45th Floor of Trump World Tower in New York.

Familiar relationship

Muhammed also has developed a close relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and White House senior staff member. The two continued to speak informally after Khashoggi's killing and Kushner offered Muhammed "advice about how to weather the storm," the New York Times reported.

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Judge: MD and DC can obtain Trump financial info

2018-Nov-03By: Barry Shatzman

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit claiming that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by enriching himself through his personal businesses while in office can proceed.

Because Federal District Judge Peter Messitte rejected Trump's challenge to the suit, the plaintiff states can obtain financial documents from him and his businesses.

Update 2019-Jul-29: A 3-judge federal appeals panel dismissed the lawsuit.

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NYT: Trump fortune built on fraud, cost gov't half billion

2018-Oct-15By: Rob Dennis

President Donald Trump's father made him wealthy, and Trump helped his parents defraud the U.S. government out of nearly a half-billion dollars, according to a New York Times investigation based on tax returns and financial records.

The Times investigation documented almost 300 streams of revenue that Trump's father - Fred Trump - created to enrich Trump. According to the report...

o Trump inherited more than $400 million in today's dollars, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day. By age 3, he was earning $200,000 a year from his father's businesses. By age 8, he was a millionaire.

o Later, Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions, submitted tax returns that "grossly undervalued" inherited properties, and helped set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts.

o Trump's parents transferred more than $1 billion to their children. This could have resulted in a tax bill of at least $550 million. Instead, the Trumps paid approximately $50 million.

The findings contradict Trump's decades-long claims to be a self-made businessman, building his real-estate empire with only a $1 million loan from his father. Aside from the inherited millions, Fred Trump made his son a salaried employee, property manager, landlord, banker and consultant. He paid for Trump's car, employees, offices and other expenses. He also bailed out Trump's business failures.

"The reporting makes clear that in every era of Mr. Trump's life, his finances were deeply intertwined with, and dependent on, his father's wealth," the Times wrote.

It's unlikely that Trump would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution because of statutes of limitations. There is no time limit, however, on civil fines for tax fraud.

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Former Trump campaign head pleads guilty, will cooperate

2018-Sep-14  (Updated: 2018-Mar-13)By: Rob Dennis

President Donald Trump's former campaign chair has pleaded guilty to two felonies and will cooperate with the special counsel investigating Russia's efforts to help Trump win the 2016 election.

Paul Manafort, who was part of the Trump campaign for six months in 2016, already had been convicted of eight financial crimes. He faced another trial for money laundering and other charges, as well as a potential re-trial for the 10 charges a jury could not decide on. The charges stem from Manafort's decade-long work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

As part of this plea deal, Manafort pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy against the United States, covering offenses ranging from money laundering to witness tampering. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Manafort's cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller could provide details about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians tied to the Kremlin, including:

o Events surrounding a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in New York between senior campaign officials and a Russian lawyer offering "dirt" on Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. In addition to Manafort, the president's son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the meeting. A former Soviet counterintelligence officer and a Soviet-born financier who once was the focus of a congressional probe into money laundering also were present.

o Manafort's own contacts during the campaign with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Manafort's longtime business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. In a court filing, prosecutors claimed a man matching Kilimnik's description has ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.

Four other Trump aides have pleaded guilty to various charges and agreed to cooperate with Mueller:

o Former campaign aide and national security adviser Michael Flynn.
o Former campaign aide George Papadopoulos.
o Former campaign aide Rick Gates.
o Former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Update 2019-March-13: Manafort has been sentenced to 73 months in prison. Thirty of those months will run concurrently with his previous sentence, bringing his total sentence to 7-1/2 years.

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Trump inauguration crowd photos were doctored

2018-Sep-06By: (External links)

Trump inauguration crowd photos were edited after he intervened

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Trump and security can be sued for assault on protesters

2018-Aug-21By: (External links)

Trump and security team must face claims of assault on Mexican protesters, judge says

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Trump's former campaign manager convicted

2018-Aug-21  (Updated: 2019-Mar-07)By: Rob Dennis

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager has been convicted of eight financial crimes in a federal court.

Paul Manafort was found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign financial account. The most serious of these charges carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The case was brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Although the charges did not directly address Russian collusion, they stem from Manafort's work for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

The jury deadlocked on 10 other counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges. One of the jurors later said that all jurors except one felt Manafort should have been convicted on all counts. Prosecutors have the option to retry him on those charges.

While the full jury couldn't agree on those 10 counts, the charges still could be used to help determine the length of Manafort's sentence.

Manafort faces a second criminal trial next month in Washington, D.C., on charges of conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice.

Update 2019-March-7: Manafort has been sentenced to 47 months in prison.

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Trump's former lawyer pleads guilty, implicates president in felonies

2018-Aug-21By: Rob Dennis

Donald Trump directed his personal attorney to illegally pay money to cover up for affairs Trump had, in order to influence the 2016 presidential election, the attorney testified in court.

Michael Cohen, Trump's attorney until May, implicated Trump while pleading guilty to eight felonies in federal court.

Two of the counts related to the payments to Stephanie Clifford (a porn actress who uses the name Stormy Daniels) and Karen McDougal.

The payments would violate campaign finance laws if the money came from a corporation (in this case Trump's) and was used as part of his campaign.

"I participated in this conduct ... for the principal purpose of influencing the election," Cohen testified in court.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion and one charge of making false statements to a bank. He faces five years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, although that could be reduced in exchange for his cooperation with Robert Mueller - the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

After Cohen appeared in court, his attorney Lanny Davis said Cohen has knowledge of interest to Mueller and is "more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows."

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Trump campaign working with ex-Cambridge Analytica workers

2018-Jun-15By: (External links)

Trump 2020 working with ex-Cambridge Analytica staffers

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Ivanka Trump trademarks come with China policy

2018-May-28  (Updated: 2019-Apr-06)By: Barry Shatzman

May 2018 was a busy month for President Donald Trump, his business, and his family.

In that month, Trump said he was working to restore 75,000 Chinese jobs by cancelling sanctions against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, which had pleaded guilty to selling U.S. technology to Iran and North Korea.

Also in that month, the Chinese government loaned Trump's business $500 million for a project in Indonesia.

Also in that month, The Chinese government approved several trademark applications by Trump's daughter Ivanka.

The timing could be coincidental, and Ivanka Trump claims to not have a role in running her company while she works in the White House as an advisor to the president. But she still maintains a financial interest in her company.

One trademark is for voting machines

Ivanka Trump has received several other trademarks from China, including trademarks for sausage casings and voting machines.

She also received several trademarks from Russia during her father's presidential campaign and continuing into his presidency.

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Trump's lawyer's company received millions in payments

2018-May-08  (Updated: 2018-May-17)By: Rob Dennis and Barry Shatzman

A shell company run by Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen has been used to receive millions of dollars from Fortune 500 companies that lobby the government.

The shell company - Essential Consultants LLC - also was used by Cohen to pay pornographic actress Stephanie Clifford $130,000 to stay silent about a sexual relationship she claims to have had with Trump. But financial documents have revealed much more money coming into the company than going out.

Cohen created the company a month before Trump was elected president. It received the money from that time through early 2018.

The financial records were provided by Michael Avenatti - Clifford's attorney - and verified by several news organizations.

Payments to Cohen's company included...

o $1.2 million from the pharmaceutical company Novartis.

o $600,000 from telecommunications company AT&T.

o $150,000 from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which is working with defense contractor Lockheed Martin in competing for a multibillion-dollar Air Force contract.

Cohen's company also received a $500,000 payment from Columbus Nova - a U.S. based company with deep ties to Russia.

How was this found out?

The information came from a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) filed by First Republic Bank in response to concern over the transactions. A Treasury Department official noticed two additional reports on Essential Consultants were missing from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database. He told The New Yorker he (likely illegally) released the document because he was concerned that it too would vanish.

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RNC pays rent for Trump campaign - in Trump Tower

2018-Feb-23By: Barry Shatzman

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is paying the rent for Donald Trump's re-election campaign - in a building Trump owns.

Rent payments to New York's Trump tower - and thus to Trump - come to $37,000 monthly.

The payments started about two weeks after the RNC stopped paying Donald Trump's personal legal fees related to the investigation of his possible involvement in Russia's attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The RNC also is paying $12,000 monthly to John Pence (Vice President Mike Pence's nephew) and $15,000 monthly to Trump's former bodyguard Keith Schiller.

In just the first half of 2017, Republican committees paid $1.3 million to Trump-owned businesses.

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Trump's legal fees being paid by campaign funds

2017-Sep-19By: Barry Shatzman

If you donate to Donald Trump's re-election campaign, there's a chance he won't be using your money to buy more television ads. You might just be paying his personal legal bills.

The lawyers representing him in the probe of his possible involvement in Russia's attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election are being paid with campaign funds and by the Republican National Committee (RNC), Reuters reported.

Using the money this way is legal because Trump did not accept public financing for his campaign (neither did Hillary Clinton for hers). Candidates are allowed to use campaign funds to pay legal bills for issues arising from being a candidate or elected official. Typically the legal fees cover things such as election disputes.

Trump, however, is the first to use campaign money to pay legal fees for a criminal investigation, election law experts told Reuters.

Update 2017-Nov-17: The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee no longer are paying Trump's attorneys.

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Trump profits most from his properties that he visits

2017-Jul-18  (Updated: 2018-Sep-15)By: Barry Shatzman

A federal judge has ordered the White House to disclose information about visitors to Mar-a-Lago - the Florida resort owned by President Donald Trump. The records must be made available by Sept. 8.

Trump has spent several weekends there since taking office and has conducted official U.S. business there. Aside from foreign leaders, it's not known who else has visited him there.

Trump has profited the most from his properties that he visits the most, according to financial disclosures he is required to file with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. They also have sued for information on visitors to Trump at the White House and Trump Tower - Trump's New York skyscraper that serves as his home and business headquarters.

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Congressional Democrats sue Trump over emoluments

2017-Jun-14By: Barry Shatzman

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and approximately 200 other members of Congress have sued President Donald Trump, claiming that he had received financial benefits from foreign governments without the consent of Congress.

The Constitution's foreign emoluments clause requires such financial benefits to be approved by Congress.

There also are two additional lawsuits regarding Trump and emoluments.

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Attorneys General sue Trump over business conflicts

2017-Jun-12  (Updated: 2018-Dec-03)By: Rob Dennis

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit claiming President Donald Trump has violated the Constitution by refusing to divest himself from his businesses.

The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments. The domestic emoluments clause bars the president from receiving any government compensation other than a salary.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, both Democrats, said in the complaint that Trump has violated both emoluments clauses through purchases, leases and other business dealings at Trump properties around the world.

Trump has refused to divest himself of his assets, instead moving them into a trust controlled by Allen Weisselberg - his chief financial officer - and two of Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.

The trust's purpose, it states, "is to hold assets for the benefit of Donald J. Trump." Trump can withdraw money at any time.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a separate lawsuit against Trump on the same grounds.

Update 2018-Nov-3: A federal judge ruled that the lawsuit can proceed.

Update 2018-Dec-3: Subpoenas are expected to be issued focusing on the Trump International Hotel near the White House.

Update 2019-Jul-29: A 3-judge federal appeals panel dismissed the lawsuit.

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House vote shows who doesn't want Trump's tax returns

2017-Feb-27  (Updated: 2017-Mar-05)By: Barry Shatzman

The House of Representatives voted to not compel President Trump to provide 10 years of tax returns.

The proposal by Rep. Bill Pascrell would have directed the House to request the returns, which would have been examined in a closed session of the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee then would have decided whether to have the full House review them.

Democrats requested a roll call vote in order to hold each representative accountable for their position. What they got instead - a roll call vote to table (avoid) the roll call vote on the request - painted the exact same picture. It just obscures the title because there is no mention of what the vote was for.

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