On September 29, The Washington Post published a story about the Washington Hilton hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue that President Donald Trump and his family owns. In it, federal prosecutors said they’re investigating hotel payments from foreign governments to the hotel — deals that may violate the Constitution’s ban on foreign gifts.
“Mr. Trump’s international business empire has been a political liability,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, the top federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Trump’s presidency would create the appearance of foreign and domestic government entanglement, which may violate the Constitution.”
The administration has not named any specific charges in the probe, according to the Post. But the lawsuit filed in October by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and District Attorney Alesia Freedman did name a person for whom it could be directed: President Trump. “The actions [Trump] has taken in office, as Plaintiffs have understood them, are in direct violation of the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses,” the lawyers wrote. “We therefore request an injunction directed at Mr. Trump to stop him from continuing his unconstitutional conduct until he resigns, or is removed by the same process constitutionally available to all other American officials.”
For this case, the government is trying to persuade the judge in the case, Beryl Howell, to appoint a special counsel. They’ve also asked the judge to keep the public’s inspection of the records sealed and allow documents to be withheld.
“The federal government seeks to manage the public’s view of these requests,” attorneys from The Justice Department wrote in the Nov. 8 request for immunity. “This Court should rule that the Justice Department is not blameless for its failings here, and that any court-appointed special counsel will be entrusted with latitude in how to arrange matters of this importance.”
But despite President Trump’s threats to sue his own Justice Department, Howell is not set to make her decision until after the inauguration of Donald Trump’s successor, who will have control over the first Trump Organization President Trump stays in a hotel room.