DiscoverTrump, Inc.
Trump, Inc.
Claim Ownership

Trump, Inc.

Author: WNYC Studios

Subscribed: 12,243Played: 134,166
Share

Description

He’s the President, yet we’re still trying to answer basic questions about how his business works: What deals are happening, who they’re happening with, and if the President and his family are keeping their promise to separate the Trump Organization from the Trump White House. “Trump, Inc.” is a joint reporting project from WNYC Studios and ProPublica that digs deep into these questions. We’ll be laying out what we know, what we don’t and how you can help us fill in the gaps.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts, including On the Media, Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many others. ProPublica is a non-profit investigative newsroom.
© WNYC Studios
38 Episodes
Reverse
Trump’s Moscow Tower Problem
This week, we’re exploring President Donald Trump’s efforts to do business in Moscow. Our team — Heather Vogell, Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer and Katie Zavadski — dug into just who Trump was working with and just what Trump needed from Russia to get a deal done. (Listen to the podcast episode here.)First, the big picture. We already knew that Trump had business interests involving Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — which he denied — that could have been influencing his policy positions. As the world has discovered, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while running for president. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress about being in contact with the Kremlin about the project during the campaign. All of that explains why congressional investigators are scrutinizing Trump’s Moscow efforts. And we’ve found more:•  Trump’s partner on the project didn't appear to be in a position to get the project approved and built. On Oct. 28, 2015 — the same day as a Republican primary debate — Trump signed a letter of intent with the partner, a developer named Andrey Rozov, to build a 400-unit condominium and hotel tower in Moscow.In a letter Rozov wrote to Cohen pitching his role, he cited his work on a suburban development outside of Moscow, a 12-story office building in Manhattan’s Garment District (which he bought rather than constructed) and two projects in Williston, North Dakota, a town of around 30,000.We looked into each of them.Rozov’s Moscow project has faced lawsuits from homeowners, some of which have settled and some of which are ongoing, and the company developing it filed for bankruptcy. It remains unfinished.Property records show that Rozov owned his New York building for just over a year. He bought it for about $35 million in cash, took out an almost $13 million loan several months later, made no significant improvements and then sold it for a 23 percent profit. Trump’s former business associate, Felix Sater, who once pleaded guilty to financial fraud and reportedly later became an asset for U.S. intelligence agencies, is listed on the sale as an “authorized signatory.”We did find a developer with a workforce housing project in Williston, as well as approved plans for a mall/hotel/water-park. (The town attracted interest from developers as the center of North Dakota’s oil boom earlier in the decade.) Rozov’s name doesn’t appear on materials relating to the company, but a person familiar with the project confirmed that this is what Rozov was bragging about in his letter. Oil prices cratered and the mega-mall was never built.Rozov did not respond to an email seeking comment.Here is a rendering of the plan:Plans for "Williston Crossing," a 218 acre site in Williams County, North Dakota.(Williston Crossing Major Comprehensive Plan Amendment Presentation/Gensler)•  An owner of a sanctioned Russian bank that vouched for the Trump Organization in Moscow had a criminal history that included involvement in a Russian mafia gas-bootlegging scheme in the U.S.Making a business trip to Russia requires an official invitation. According to correspondence published by BuzzFeed, Sater arranged for an invitation from Genbank, a small Russian bank that expanded significantly in Crimea after Russia invaded in 2014.One of Genbank’s co-owners is Yevgeny Dvoskin, a Russian-born financier who grew up in Brighton Beach at the same time as Sater. Dvoskin pleaded guilty to tax evasion in federal court in Ohio for the bootlegging scheme and spent time in prison. He was later deported to Russia, according to press accounts. In Russia, he remained tied to criminal networks, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. (We were unable to reach Dvoskin for comment.)•  We also get a hint about why Trump may have needed the Kremlin to get his deal done. Some of the sites under consideration for a potential Trump Tower Moscow were in historic areas with strict height restrictions. Just a few years before the 2015 letter of intent that Trump signed, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin pledged to do all he could to prevent the city from being overrun by skyscrapers.If Trump’s deal was to move forward in some place like the Red October Chocolate Factory, one of the spots that was considered, getting around zoning restrictions would need help from the very top.Sater and Cohen were also kicking around a plan to offer Putin the building’s $50 million penthouse, according to BuzzFeed. That need for special help, combined with the potential offer of a valuable asset, raises questions about whether the plan ran afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to Alexandra Wrage, the president and founder of Trace International, an organization that helps companies comply with anti-bribery laws. “What you describe is certainly worrying,” she said.The Trump Organization, the White House, and Michael Cohen did not respond to requests for comment.For his part, Sater is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on March 27. The committee members will undoubtedly have plenty of questions.You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.And finally, you can use the Postal Service:Trump, Inc. at ProPublica 155 Ave of the Americas, 13th Floor New York, NY 10013“Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Six Tips for Preparing for the Mueller Report, Which May or May Not Be Coming
Being investigative journalists means we’re constantly asking questions. But these days, it also means people are asking us questions. One we hear a lot nowadays: “When is the Mueller report coming — and what will it say?” Our answer: We don’t know. But we’ve realized that perhaps we can be more helpful than that. We don’t have insider information on special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. (Sorry!) But we have spent lots of time investigating the president and his businesses. And we thought we’d share some of the perspectives we’ve gained.Here are six things to keep in mind. Don’t predict.We don’t know what Mueller will report, when he will report it or even whether we’ll be able to read it. That’s because Congress changed the law after special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s salacious tell-all on President Bill Clinton. When Mueller is done, he has to give a report to Attorney General William Barr. But Barr can choose to keep the report confidential. Barr only has to give a summary to Congress. If Barr doesn’t make Mueller’s actual report public, Democrats will almost surely subpoena it. Then get ready for a fight.Stop focusing on “collusion.”“Collusion” has come to be a kind of shorthand for ... basically doing something bad with Russia. But the term is both too vague and too narrow. For one thing, “collusion” is not itself a clearly defined crime. It is a crime to commit a conspiracy against the United States — for which there is a high bar: proving an intent to undermine the government.Remember: We already know a lot.We already know Trump had a hidden conflict of interest involving Russia during the campaign. Despite publicly denying it, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while he was running for president. That means Trump had interests involving Russia — which voters didn’t know about — that could have been influencing his policy positions. That’s all problematic on its own.  We also know that Russian government interests hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee, handed them to Wikileaks, and that at least one Trump ally, Roger Stone, was in touch with Wikileaks.Don’t expect answers to everything, or even most things.That’s not Mueller’s job. He is a prosecutor. His job is first and foremost to look for crimes. And while he can, and has, looked beyond Russian interference in the election, he’s unlikely to dig into everything. And, of course, there are lots of areas worthy of scrutiny beyond Russia: Trump’s businesses, his inauguration, his hush money payments and more.Mueller is not alone.There are lots of active investigations looking into all these issues. A partial rundown of just the ones we know about: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating the inauguration and other matters, the New York attorney general is investigating the Trump Foundation, and the District of Columbia’s attorney general and the state of Virginia are suing Trump over emoluments. There are also a whole host of coming congressional investigations.The final judgments on Trump’s actions will be political, not legal. (Caveats apply.)  Whatever Mueller ultimately files, he is very unlikely to charge the president with a crime. Since Watergate, the Department of Justice has had a policy that a sitting president should not be indicted. And Mueller is a stickler for the rules. Having said that, Trump does face significant legal jeopardy. For example, former presidents can be indicted. So can Trump’s own company. So: Stay tuned. Stay patient. And while you wait for the report, check out our conversation with On The Media – they’ve created a handy “Breaking News Consumers’ Handbook Mueller Edition.”
How a Nigerian Presidential Candidate Hired a Trump Lobbyist and Ended Up in Trump’s Lobby
This week, Trump, Inc. goes inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Located in the Old Post Office, the hotel is at the center of three lawsuits alleging President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause barring the president from taking gifts from foreign governments. We stayed the night. Among the many prominent guests we saw: Nigerian presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his entourage. Nigeria’s elections were last weekend, and Abubakar was the main challenger to the incumbent president out of a crowded field of candidates. After a tightly contested race, he came in second.Abubakar’s visit is surprising for several reasons. He had been reportedly barred from the U.S. for nearly 10 years for his alleged involvement in corruption while he was Nigeria’s vice president. Perhaps you remember the $90,000 in cash that was found in Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson’s freezer back in 2005? That was allegedly a bribe for Abubakar.A 2010 Senate report on foreign corruption dedicated an entire chapter to Abubakar and his wife. The report detailed their efforts to transfer $40 million in “suspect funds” into the U.S. through offshore accounts while Abubakar served as vice president.Abubakar has never been arrested or charged, either in the U.S. or Nigeria, and says he has never taken bribes. He has also called the reports of his immigration ban “misinformation.”Last year, Abubakar hired a lobbyist, Scott Mason, who was a former Trump campaign adviser. Disclosures filed by Mason show he lobbied Congress, the State Department and the National Security Council on “visa issues.”House of Representative lobbying disclosure for Scott Mason from Holland & Knight for Atiku Abubakar.(WNYC)Mason and his lobbying firm did not respond to requests for comment. Abubakar’s party also hired another firm close to Trump: Ballard Partners, run by Brian Ballard, former finance co-chairman for Trump’s campaign in Florida and a top Trump fundraiser. Years ago, he was Donald Trump’s lobbyist when he wanted to establish a casino in the Sunshine State. Now, he’s what Politico called “The Most Powerful Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.”  Filings by the firm say only that it was working on “advocacy services relative to US-Nigeria bilateral relations.”James Rubin, a partner at the firm, said they were hired to work on “promoting free and fair elections” in Nigeria.The visa status of individuals is confidential, but Reuters has reported that the U.S. government temporarily suspended Abubakar’s visa ban after a push by the lobbyists.A spokesperson from the State Department declined to comment on Abubakar’s case. But the spokesperson said, “In cases where the secretary of state has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption … those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.” Abubakar isn’t the only foreign political figure to patronize the Trump International Hotel in Washington since the 2016 election; there’s a long list of others. Dignitaries from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia and Azerbaijan have all lodged at the Old Post Office. And this past year, the Trump Organization reported an increase in foreign profits to their hotels.
Trump Inauguration Chief Tom Barrack’s ‘Rules for Success’
Last year, our Trump, Inc. podcast with WNYC explored the mystery of how Donald Trump’s inaugural managed to raise and spend $107 million. A lot has happened since then. We now know the inaugural committee is the subject of a wide-ranging criminal investigation. And we at Trump, Inc. broke the news that some of the inaugural money went to Trump’s own business – and that Ivanka Trump played a role in the negotiations. That could violate tax law. (A spokesman for Ivanka said she simply wanted a “fair market rate.”) In our latest episode, we take a deep dive into the many roles of Tom Barrack: Trump’s old friend; wealthy investor with decades-long ties to the Middle East; and the man who chaired the now-under-investigation inaugural committee. Before the inauguration, Barrack described the role as “the worst job in the world.” So why’d he take it? One possible clue comes from an eight-page strategic plan dated one month after the inauguration on the letterhead of the company he founded. Another reason could be a plan he supported to export U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Barrack has spent his career cultivating the powerful. He lives by twenty “Rules for Success,” including: “Punctuality is the courtesy of kings” and “The jungle is a safer place with professionals than a paved road with amateurs.” Barrack did not agree to an interview. His spokesman, and the inaugural committee, did not respond to our questions. A committee spokeswoman previously said its finances “were fully audited internally and independently and are fully accounted.”  WNYCElsewhere in the podcast, we report that the inaugural committee was so eager to book space at Trump’s hotel in Washington that it encouraged hotel management to cancel another event -- a prayer breakfast -- so space would be clear for the inaugural celebration, according to a lawsuit against the committee filed by the reverend who organized the breakfast. The hotel did briefly cancel the breakfast, invoking “force majeure,” or an act of god. In this case, they predicted civil unrest over the inauguration week. 
Trump Jr. Invested in a Hydroponic Lettuce Company
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, took a stake last year in a startup whose co-chairman is a major Trump campaign fundraiser who has sought financial support from the federal government for his other business interests, according to records obtained by ProPublica.The fundraiser, Texas money manager Gentry Beach, and Trump Jr. attended college together, are godfather to one of each other’s sons and have collaborated on investments — and on the Trump presidential campaign. Since Trump’s election, Beach has attempted to obtain federal assistance for projects in Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and he has met or corresponded with top officials in the National Security Council, Interior Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.Beach and others at the startup, Eden Green Technology, have touted their connections to the first family to impress partners, suppliers and others, according to five current and former business associates. Richard Venn, an early backer of Eden Green, recalls the company’s founder mentioning “interest from the Trump family.” Another associate said Beach bragged about his ties to the Trumps in a business meeting.The investment is one of just a handful of known business ventures pursued by Trump Jr. since his father moved into the White House almost two years ago. In addition to being a top campaign surrogate and public booster, Trump Jr. serves as an executive vice president of his father’s company and one of just two trustees of the trust holding the president’s assets.Ethics experts have consistently criticized these arrangements, arguing that they invite those seeking to influence the government to do so by attempting to enrich the president or his family members with favorable business opportunities.Trump Jr. invested in the startup, a company that grows organic lettuce in a hydroponic greenhouse, last year, records show. Those records don’t state how much money — if any —  Trump paid for his 7,500 shares. But the shares would have been worth about $650,000 at the end of last year, based on a formula used by another shareholder in a recent court filing. Neither Trump Jr. nor the company have disclosed his investment publicly. Trump Jr. obtained the stake through a limited liability company called MSMDF Agriculture LLC, which was set up by a Trump Organization employee last fall.  The key ethical question, said Virginia Canter, chief ethics lawyer at the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is whether Beach’s involvement with Eden Green, and Trump Jr.’s investment in it, are based on the business merits — or on the possibility of cashing in on connections to power. “Why is Trump Jr. being given this opportunity?” she asked. “It definitely has the appearance of trying to gain access by any means to curry favor with the administration.”The willingness of Eden Green to invoke the Trump name in its business dealings raises further ethical concerns, experts said, particularly if potential customers understand that they are giving contracts to a startup whose success could enrich the president’s son.Neither Trump Jr. nor his spokesman responded to messages seeking comment on his relationship with Beach and investment in Eden Green. A White House spokeswoman didn’t respond to emailed questions. Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s top lawyer, said in a statement that Trump Jr.’s investment is a personal one. The entity through which it was made “is not owned or controlled by, or affiliated in any way with, The Trump Organization,” Garten said.  Last fall, Eden Green concluded a deal with Walmart. Today, the giant retailer sells the company’s lettuce, kale and other greens at about 100 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. (Eden Green’s sole facility is a 44,023-square-foot greenhouse outside Fort Worth, where it grows the greens in 18-foot vertical tubes.)Walmart interacts with government regulators on an array of matters -- everything from labor practices and land use to securities filings -- but there is no indication that Walmart is aware of Trump Jr.’s connection to Eden Green. (Separately, Walmart contributed $150,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee. Beach was a finance vice chair of that committee, but a Beach spokesman says he has never met with Walmart executives.)Molly Blakeman, a Walmart spokeswoman, declined to comment on Eden Green or its investors. “We don’t talk about our relationships with our suppliers,” said Blakeman, who added that Walmart has “supported inaugural activities” in the past.   Andrew Kolvet, a spokesman for Beach and the other Eden Green executives, said it’s “categorically false” that the Trump name was invoked by Eden Green officials. Kolvet cited a corporate policy that forbids discussing investors “with any current or potential client.” He also said Trump Jr. isn’t involved with company operations and bought into Eden Green during “U.S. friends and family fundraising efforts.”A recent lawsuit asserts that Eden Green is in financial trouble. In October, the company’s largest shareholder, an entity controlled by a wealthy oil and gas family from Midland, Texas, filed suit in state court in Dallas, alleging “gross project mismanagement.” The suit accused Beach and six executives, all of them board members, of paying themselves extravagant salaries (allegedly $250,000 to $300,000 per year) and putting the company “on the precipice of failure.” A financial consultant hired to examine the company’s books asserted that Eden Green executives spent more than $19.4 million in the first nine months of 2018 — a daunting sum for a company that reported having raised a total of $22 million as of June — while generating $9,000 in revenues.In late November, less than a month after the suit was filed, it was settled on confidential terms. Kolvet disputed the compensation figures asserted in the litigation, saying that the company’s pay is “in accordance with industry standards.” He maintained that Eden Green’s prospects are good. As with many startups, he said, “things don’t go in a straight line.” Kolvet asserted that the company has plenty of operating cash. Trump Jr., now 40, and Beach, now 43, met at the University of Pennsylvania two decades ago. Both are the sons of wealthy businessmen, one in real estate, one in oil and gas. Beach’s father has since been laid low: Last month he was sentenced to four months in federal detention, plus two years of supervised release, for bankruptcy fraud.Beach was a groomsman at Trump Jr.’s wedding (Trump Jr. and his wife recently separated). Beach and Trump Jr. like to hunt and once considered buying a hunting preserve in Mexico together. According to a 2010 deposition testimony by Trump Jr., they talked business during lunches at Rothmann’s steakhouse in New York.Both have struggled in business at times. In 2009, Trump Jr. and others (including one person who pleaded guilty to an unrelated criminal fraud charge in 2010) formed a company that would sell concrete panels for home constructions out of a warehouse in North Charleston, South Carolina. The business quickly became mired in lawsuits seeking payment for unpaid bills. Trump Jr. made the situation more precarious by personally guaranteeing a $3.7 million loan for the project. Days before the note was due, the Trump Organization purchased the debt, eventually taking over the warehouse and selling it all back to Trump Jr.’s original business partner, according to press accounts.For his part, Beach’s career path has also included some travails. He spent a year or so at Enron and then moved into finance. Beach worked for a hedge fund and remains locked in litigation with it more than a decade later. (He claims he wasn’t paid his full compensation; the fund claims he was “responsible for the destruction of millions of dollars of investor capital.”) Beach now runs a “family office focused on private equity investments” out of a Dallas office that Eden Green uses as its corporate address.Trump Jr. has at least twice before invested with Beach in deals that didn’t pan out. Trump Jr. put  $200,000 in a dry Texas oil well managed by Beach’s father, according to testimony by Trump Jr. He also lost an unknown sum in a failed African mining company affiliated with Beach’s uncle.But Trump Jr. stuck with his friend. The Associated Press reported this year that the two formed a company last October to pursue technology investments.Then there was Eden Green. By the time Trump invested last fall, the company had already run into problems. It first launched in 2013 in South Africa with an ambitious mission: to feed the world through a highly efficient indoor farming system deploying patented technology intended to yield 10 to 12 harvests a year, compared with two or three for conventional agriculture.There’s a market for vegetables grown in controlled greenhouse environments as big retailers increasingly push for cleaner, more reliable and locally grown alternatives. But the challenges are significant. Energy costs run high, and there are myriad difficulties associated with scaling up to an industrial-size system.   That’s what happened in Eden Green’s first iteration, according to a half dozen early backers and associates. The produce may have been sustainable — but the business model wasn’t. The CEO of its European unit wrote in an October 2017 email obtained by ProPublica that the company had “been bleeding money and resources for almost 2 years now.” In the fall of 2017, Eden Green’s founders cemented a deal to hand over majority control to a group of U.S. investors led by Beach, current and former business associates said.This was the company Trump Jr. bought into. He used an innocuous-sounding limited liability company, called MSMDF Agriculture LLC, to make the investment. ProPublica discovered MSMDF after the Trump Organization listed it in New York City filings among dozens of other entities it controlled. (Because the Trump Organization has contracts with the city to run the Wollman skating rink in Central Park and a golf course in the Bronx, the city requires the company to file disclosures.) The Trump Organization told ProPublica that MSMDF is not in fact owned by the Trump Organization but was included in the disclosure form because it’s controlled by Trump Jr., who was described in the form as MSMDF’s president, secretary and treasurer.MSMDF was formed by a Trump Organization employee in September 2017 in Delaware, according to incorporation papers. Eden Green Holdings UK, Ltd., an affiliate of the Texas-based company, then listed MSMDF among its roughly two dozen shareholders in a 2018 report filed with British regulators.The Trump Jr-Beach connection has been most visible in the political arena. Last year, for example, Trump Jr. publicly thanked Beach and their mutual friend Tommy Hicks Jr., another wealthy investor from Dallas, for their fundraising during the 2016 campaign. “We couldn’t have done it without you guys,” Trump Jr. said of his buddies to a crowd of Republican donors in March 2017. “It was just absolutely incredible.”In the foreword to a recent book, Trump Jr. reiterated the message, writing that a “rag tag army” — Trump Jr., Beach, Hicks and Charlie Kirk, the firebrand chief of the pro-Trump organization, Turning Point USA  — barnstormed the country in 2016, raising “over 150 million dollars in ninety days.”Since Trump’s election, Beach has met with top administration figures on multiple occasions. For example, according to the AP, he lobbied National Security Council officials to relax sanctions against Venezuela to create opportunities for U.S. companies. He attended a private lunch with Republican donors and Interior secretary Ryan Zinke.Beach has denied leveraging his ties to the first family. Last month, Beach told a TV interviewer in Croatia, where he said he was exploring a “truly spectacular” $100 million real estate development, “I don’t need anything from the government, thankfully, except normal police protection in my hometown.”But newly obtained emails show that Beach wanted government backing for his private business interests at the same time he was running Eden Green. In October 2017, Beach pitched Ray Washburne, who heads the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a government agency that offers loans and guarantees to American companies looking to expand into emerging markets, according to emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. (Before joining OPIC, Washburne was a Dallas investor and a top fundraiser for Trump. He and Beach move in the same circles and have friends in common.)“The Dominican Republic could really use some US investment and support,” Beach wrote in one email to Washburne, describing his various projects there, which included “a power plant upgrade to an existing tin mine” as well as liquid natural gas infrastructure. He invited OPIC officials to travel with him to the Dominican Republic “If permitted, we would be happy to handle all transportation from DC to DR and back,” he wrote in a follow-up note. (Such a trip never occurred, according to an OPIC spokesperson.)  A month later, the emails show, Beach also lobbied on another project, arranging a call with his business partner and one of Washburne’s top deputies regarding an “India Oppty,” which appeared to involve an energy fund. Separately, Beach also introduced Washburne to the head of oil giant Exxon Mobil’s Africa operations, with whom Beach said he had gone shooting at Blenheim Palace in England, where the Churchill family resided for three centuries. And Beach connected another Washburne aide with a South African mining executive who Beach described as “one of my partners.”OPIC spokeswoman Amanda Burke said Beach has not submitted any formal applications for agency funding. “OPIC routinely meets with a variety of businesses and stakeholders,” she said, adding that formal applications trigger background and credit checks and “go through several levels of agency vetting and approval.”Asked whether having a Trump connection would disqualify a person from receiving OPIC support, Burke emailed that “in general, an individual’s personal or legal business interests would not disqualify them from applying. However, certain relationships may cause board members or other decision makers of OPIC to be conflicted out of the decision-making process on potential projects.”
The Emolument Suit Against Trump That Is Moving Ahead
There’s lots of talk about congressional investigations of the Trump administration that may be coming. Meanwhile, there is already a push to pull back the veil on the president’s conflicts. And it’s making progress.This month, a federal judge ruled that Maryland and Washington, D.C., can move ahead with a lawsuit claiming the president has violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which bars presidents from accepting payments from foreign and state governments without congressional approval. That means the president may soon have to turn over all sorts of documents related to his businesses.  We spoke about the case with one of the lawyers behind it, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine.Racine explains that the Emoluments Clause is the “country's first anticorruption law.” The framers created it to “ensure that a president the United States as well as other federal officers would be loyal to the interest of the United States, not to their purses or to their pocketbooks.”  The Department of Justice has fought the case, disputing that the president is violating the Emoluments Clause. “This case, which should have been dismissed, presents important questions that warrant immediate appellate review,” a department spokesman said after the judge’s order.Racine also talked with us about what exact documents they’re hoping to get, and the time a Republican Congress investigated whether another president was receiving emoluments. (He wasn’t.) 
So What Trump Investigations Could Be Coming?
For two years, journalists have operated in an environment where Congress has declined to inquire into key issues surrounding President Trump’s family business: Is he profiting from his presidency? Are his friends, family, and appointees? Is Trump violating the Constitution when members of foreign governments make payments to his company by staying at his properties?  Now, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives after this week’s midterm elections, that will change. Already, several high-ranking members are vowing to look into aspects of the relationship between Trump’s business and his administration.Among them:• Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), currently the ranking member of Ways and Means Committee, says he’ll request Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department.• Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee,  says in a statement he’ll “shine a light on...President Trump’s decisions to act in his own financial self-interest rather than the best interests of the American people.”• Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), current ranking member of the Judiciary Committee is vowing to investigate policies “that enable pervasive corruption to influence decision-making at the highest levels of government.”• Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee says in a statement  the committee will look at “areas inquiry the majority ignored or prevented us from investigating.” Democratic committee staff issued a report last spring detailing some of those areas. Among them: the Trump Organization’s business practices.What will this all mean? What do we hope to learn? And how might this change our understanding of the presidency and his business?  WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein convened an all-star panel to discuss it all: Adam Davidson of the The New Yorker, McClatchy’s White House Correspondent Anita Kumar, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, and Eric Umansky of ProPublica.They also helped us to create a must-read list of stories, articles, documents and court filings that take on new interest after the midterms for anyone following the administration.From Adam: The House Intelligence Committee’s Minority Views report, which lays out how a Democrat-led committee might continue to investigate possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the deposition of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in State of New York v. The Donald J. Trump Foundation.From Andrea: U.S. District Judge’s Peter J. Messitte’s Nov. 2, 2018, Memorandum Opinion in The District of Columbia and the State of Maryland v. Donald J. Trump, otherwise known as the “emoluments lawsuit.”  From Anita: Sarah Chayes’ amicus brief in CREW v. Donald J. Trump.From David: Trump’s 2007 deposition in the case Donald J. Trump v. Timothy O’Brien.From Eric: Axios’ story about a GOP spreadsheet of expected Democratic-led investigations. It’s a long list that spans everything from well-known issues like Trump’s tax returns to things many of us have long forgotten, such as whether classified information has been inappropriately shared at Mar-a-Lago.
loading
Comments (108)

Nonya Bizness

i don't know if the podcast producers read these comments, but since you report that technically, the president can give his permission to for private entities to use (and profit from) the presidential seal, and that he has apparently given only one private entity, the trump org, that permission, i say we inundate the president with requests to use the seal. a bar, a barber shop, a band, birthday parties, bed and breakfast decor, etc... if the sole permission for AMERICA'S presidential seal to be used for profit by a private company goes to trump org, we have clear evidence that trump is, at minimum, using the office of the president to pillage the american people.

Mar 24th
Reply

SMSimon

Phenomenal reporting here everyone. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

Feb 28th
Reply

Luke Strain

This channel is trash.. pulling at straws and where the respect for office of the presidency??

Dec 16th
Reply

Scott McWilliams

I appreciate your passion for finding the wrong doing of the current president. where was this podcast or info on the last president. government is corrupt on both sides.

Dec 9th
Reply

Nonya Bizness

Scott McWilliams by your logic, if i rob wf bank, an institution has recent, documented corruption, no harm no foul, right?

Dec 25th
Reply

Gee Whiz

Scott McWilliams Ah yes, there's that "both sides" tactic again—a favorite of the BLOTUS. Let's remember that only ONE SIDE murdered an American in Charlottesville on 12 August 2017. A list of Obama corruption would be LAUGHABLE when put beside a list of Trump corruption; keep in mind that Mr Trump has been associating with Russian oligarchs and other shadowy thugs for DECADES; apparently this is only a secret to Trump supporters.

Dec 14th
Reply

Rich Berry

great work everyone! so enlightening. so depressing.

Sep 27th
Reply

Minnich

For a year now, the news is dominated by what the president is doing, is tweeting, is saying. When will the media and capitol hill refocus on the important issues plaguing our country, and have since long before Trump? Quit giving a bully what he wants. He craves national attention. Stop giving it to him. He thrives on it. I agree that he is not fit to lead. I also believe that he will shoot himself in the foot. He will bring himself down. So, let's focus on the real issues. Let's hope, the country, being we the people, might have a real voice in Congress and not the voices of special interests. Our two party system is a failure to the general public. The working class has no real representation. Reality has won me over. Trump is an awful leader, and should not be allowed to continue, but we have so many other issues to fix. One man is keeping us from progress because HE controls the media coverage.

Aug 13th
Reply

Michelle T Usher

I don't understand how come it is so hard to get government records? aside from them not sending them. you can still research agency spending per the USASPENDING.GOV WEBSITE. THEY HAVE CENSORED THE TRUMP FAMILY EXPENDITURES. BUT HE HAS LOTS OF CONTRACTS PAYMENTS FOR RENTALS, THRU Homeland Security. I mean the fact us tax dollars were used to bribe Guatamala to also move their embassy. BL HARBERT LLC HAS RECIEVED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS TO BUILD guatamala embassy in US. THEIR LEADER IS A DEVOUT EVANGELICAL.

Aug 6th
Reply

BnB 44901

where have you gone?! been waiting super patiently!

Aug 1st
Reply

Michael Haworth

Found out something extremely disturbing on Sunday. it appears that lobbyists for the baby formula industries have been funneling money to the Trump organization. This weekend a mandate went out from Trump that organizatios that deal with women and baby's both here and overseas are instructed to stop advising new mother's on the benefits of breast milk and instead telling them to start formula immediately after birth. I am a nurse and am appalled at this Revelation. Breast milk is absolutely essential to the health of a newborn. In the mother's breast milk is a substance called colostrum which hold all if the mother's natural antibodies the baby needs to develop a strong immune response. To advise new mother's to ignore this is not only immoral but devious and extremely unhealthy. To accept money to make baby's sickly is evil simply evil. No moral being on this earth would do this.

Jul 9th
Reply

Marcee Beth

Michael Haworth , I was reading a few articles on that as well. Years ago, new Moms were offered a "free diaper bag" with a can of formula, coupons, advertisements, etc.. Breastfeeding wasn't encouraged or discouraged from my view as a patient. Jump 17 years, no diaper bags and nursing was encouraged. I saw this as a HUGE win even though I wouldn't be able to because I was taking a calcium channel blocker and had to restart topiramate ASAP for migraine prophylaxis. I worked in OB/GYN for 12 years. I miss it at times, other times, I'm glad I stepped away and have worked some great specialties, a bit of primary care and now in a 24/7 high acuity urgent care.

Jul 12th
Reply

Loyal R

What you gonna do when President Donald J. Trump is awarded the Noble Prize? Take heart...there are psychotropic drugs that can help you overcome, or at least lessen your delusions.

May 14th
Reply

Z

Loyal R What’s the Noble prize? Do you get that for being a whiny overgrown child who can’t even run an inherited business without relying on money laundering schemes to stay afloat?

Jul 22nd
Reply

Pieter Moreels

Loyal R hahahahahaha best joke ever!! 😂😂

Jul 16th
Reply

Loyal R

Trump 4 more! Don't like it? Move to the shit hole country of California...or stay in NYC so you can pay your respects everyday at Trump Tower before returning to your $2,300 a month broom closet rat infested apartment.

May 14th
Reply

Matt Baller

Loyal R u ok hun? x

Nov 29th
Reply

Ryan O

this is to the producers, examine the land records and deeds filed and the LLCs involved with in Albemarle County, Virginia. This is when he purchased Trump wineries. I grew up right next to this Winery and I'm also a real estate paralegal so I can tell you anything and everything you want to know and I'm telling you now nothing involving this sale is on the up-and-up or is it clear cut like all other large over 5 million dollar sales in this area

May 11th
Reply

Victoria Green

excellent reporting! keep up the good work

May 7th
Reply

shon driggers

Drain The Swamp!!!

Apr 23rd
Reply

Michael Haworth

Check to see if trump or anyone close to him has set up a qualified intermediary! Its a way real restate companies can hide money not pay taxes on it and use it secretly. There is zero federal regulations on this type of company. I am positive he has set one up to launder money. Michael Haworth hawortha22@gmail.com

Apr 22nd
Reply

Cullen Logan

Dave Minnich Unfortunately our constitution precludes private citizens from suing a sitting president. So long as he is president only impeachment can touch him. Fortunately the same constitution prevents pardoning of anyone that has been impeached. I cling to faith in our 3 branched checks and balances for now. I just don't know if impeachment would give us any relief. I have very little faith in our VP, and his inability to separate his personal church from the politics of state.

Aug 17th
Reply

Dave Minnich

Michael Haworth Now, this is a constructive point. We need constructive discussion. Acts such as cheating people should be viewed as theft. It doesn't matter how rich one is, what position one holds, wrong is wrong. Those who commit crimes deserve to be held to the same standard of punishment, regardless of wealth or class or any other box humans wish to place one another in to.

Apr 24th
Reply

Telle0

Good quality , I love these truth-seeking investigative journalism podcasts. Trump sycophants may want to plug their ears.

Apr 20th
Reply

Rick Arden

FOUR MORE YEARS!

Apr 11th
Reply

John Wiley

I'm really enjoying this podcast. I hope you dig up enough dirt on him.

Apr 1st
Reply

Dave Minnich

I won't pretend that Donald Trump is a positive role model, or a nice guy, but he is the President and as such deserves an amount of respect. Podcasts like this one only further the divisions in our country. Unsubscribing.

Mar 29th
Reply

Minnich

Phil France Phil, the comment you are responding to was made when I was still on the fence about how people approach politics. If you read through the thread, you will conclude that I have been won over by the conversation induced by this podcast. The problem is, I've concluded that our government is broken and corrupt. Therefore, I believe all politicians to have their own interest at heart rather than that of the people.

Jan 6th
Reply

Phil France

Dave Minnich , dissenting voices are incredibly important. Especially when the people in power seem to be abusing that power. We need more investigative journalists tackling powerful figures, not fewer.

Jan 6th
Reply

Bill Holliday, CFP

this is really importanto work you're doing- keep it up

Mar 28th
Reply

Z

Minnich There is a core to this sentiment that I like- that we are responsible for change. I believe the only justice you can count on is that which you make with your own hands and do my part to keep people in my community fed. Where I differ is that I see investigation into the government and its elected officials as something commendable- people living out that value in their work, sometimes at personal risk, and always slogging through deep layers of deception and concealment to find what the powerful don’t want seen. I also believe those in positions of power are driven by inherently callous and self-advancing motivations that are usually incompatible with the good of common people. If these things can be considered true, then this is public service, even if it never results in impeachment or revolution or whatever change one desires. People deserve to be informed of corrupt motivations

Jul 22nd
Reply

Minnich

Bill Holliday, CFP I respectfully disagree sir. Looking for reasons to further the disdain for the democratically elected president is not constructive and further distract from pursuing solutions to REAL problems in our country. In 3 years, vote again. Maybe your chosen candidate will be sucessful. Until then, we should all stop focusing on who's president, and actually committing ourselves to a chosen problem. E.G. Homeless vets, mental health, sensible gun legislation, gunger, poverty. The government works for us. WE are responsible for change.

May 16th
Reply
loading
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store