First Subpoenas Have Been Served In Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump

One way or another, Trump is going down before the end of this term.

564 points

Just in case you didn’t recognize the name Emmet Sullivan, he’s the DC District Court Judge that presided over the cases of both Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, key operatives in the Trump campaign in 2016 who repeatedly lied to federal investigators and obstructed justice — aside from the original crimes they committed in the service of getting Trump elected and hiding his connections to the government of Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation.

Now Judge Sullivan is overseeing a case impossibly even closer to Trump than the aspects of his campaign that he would rather keep hidden: A lawsuit alleging multiple ongoing violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. That’s the law Trump has run afoul of by accepting payments from foreign sources in return for preferential treatment from him and the government of the United States.


That he has violated the clause is not in much doubt — his lawyers have spent their time arguing against the legitimacy of the case based on technical grounds, rather than insisting he’s innocent of the actions alleged.

Now Sullivan has given the green light for House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and around two hundred Congressional plaintiffs to proceed with the discovery process in that case. After that ruling came down, Nadler oversaw the issuance of 37 judicial subpoenas to multiple Trump businesses — including the Trump Organization — to answer for questions about payments from foreign governments and associated patents and trademarks granted by those governments to Trump’s businesses.


Although Trump’s legal team had attempted to employ the tactic of simply delaying discovery in the case — presumably so that evidence could be “misplaced” or shuffled around efficiently enough so as to make it invisible — Judge Sullivan asserted that discovery could be completed by the beginning of next year, if all concerned parties moved quickly.

And quickly they moved.

Even corporate tax returns for Trump businesses can’t be shielded from the federal case, and Trump’s holdings must therefore surrender their records or face prison. Nadler, the Judiciary Chair, said in a statement:

President Trump has flagrantly ignored the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, but we do not yet know the extent of his violations. We are taking an important step towards obtaining key documents to understand the full scope of Trump’s foreign business dealings. The American people deserve to know whether their President is selling them out for his own personal benefit. With each passing day, we are closer to uncovering the truth.”

Blumenthal had kind words for the press that has covered the ongoing emoluments case, and made a reference to Trump’s next obvious move of appealing to the Circuit Court:

Thanks to the good work of the press, we already know of foreign emoluments that President Trump has and is receiving — we simply don’t yet know the full scope of his lawbreaking. Unsurprisingly, the Trump Administration is still seeking to delay, delay, delay, but we are confident that the D.C. Circuit will recognize the well-reasoned logic of the District Court, and allow discovery to proceed.”

Pointedly, both men referred to Trump as having clearly broken the law, but that Americans simply didn’t know yet just how badly or how often Trump had done so.


It looks like Trump is running out of time to quash these accusations before the next presidential election cycle. That’s bad news for both the President and those foreign governments with whom he has been striking sweetheart deals.

Featured image is a screen capture.

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564 points
Calum Stuart