WASHINGTON, D. C. – A federal judge has granted the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland permission to serve document-preservation subpoenas on businesses owned by President Donald Trump as part of the District and Maryland’s lawsuit alleging that President Trump is violating key anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution.
The ruling means that Maryland and the District can now serve subpoenas requiring Trump business entities to preserve documents potentially related to the lawsuit, even though the businesses are not parties to the case.
While these subpoenas will require Trump businesses to preserve their records, no document production will take place until the court enters an order. Oral arguments addressing President Trump’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit are scheduled for January 25, 2018.
The joint District/Maryland lawsuit alleges that President Trump’s wide-ranging business entanglements with foreign and domestic government actors violate the Constitution’s Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.
The Emoluments Clauses are anti-corruption provisions included in the Constitution. They shield government officials from outside influence and ensure that they are motivated by the nation’s interests, rather than their own bottom lines. The Foreign Emoluments Clause bars officials from accepting money or items of value from foreign governments unless Congress grants an exception. The Domestic Emoluments Clause bars officials from accepting money or things of value—outside of their direct compensation—from the states or the federal government. In this way, the clauses prevent government entities from currying favor or exerting undue influence over officials.
According to the complaint, “[u]ncertainty about whether the President is acting in the best interests of the American people, or rather for his own ends or personal enrichment, inflicts lasting harm on our democracy. The Framers of the Constitution foresaw that possibility, and acted to prevent that harm.”
The suit seeks an injunction to put a stop to the President’s constitutional violations. More information on the suit can be found here: https://oag.dc.gov/page/emoluments-lawsuit