A fed­eral judge or­dered

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JONATHAN O’CON­NELL AND DAVID A. FAHRENTHOLD jonathan.ocon­nell@wash­post.com david.fahrenthold@wash­post.com Ann E. Ma­ri­mow and Rachel Weiner con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s busi­ness to pre­serve records for a law­suit that al­leges his com­pany vi­o­lated an­ti­cor­rup­tion clauses in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

A fed­eral judge on Tues­day or­dered Pres­i­dent Trump’s busi­ness to pre­serve records re­lated to a law­suit brought by the Demo­cratic at­tor­neys gen­eral of Mary­land and the Dis­trict of Columbia that al­lege his pri­vate com­pany has vi­o­lated anti-corruption clauses in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

With the rul­ing, D.C. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Karl A. Racine and Mary­land At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian E. Frosh are now per­mit­ted to serve sub­poe­nas re­quir­ing the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion to pre­serve doc­u­ments if the court al­lows the two sides to seek ev­i­dence from each other.

The de­ci­sion by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Peter J. Mes­sitte in Mary­land is a small ad­vance­ment in one of the most high-pro­file at­tempts to get a court to con­sider a case on the “emol­u­ments” clauses of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which bar the pres­i­dent from ac­cept­ing gifts or pay­ments from for­eign or state gov­ern­ments.

“This rul­ing is an im­por­tant first step in our lit­i­ga­tion against Pres­i­dent Trump for un­law­fully re­ceiv­ing emol­u­ments from for­eign and do­mes­tic gov­ern­ments,” Racine said in a state­ment.

No court has con­sid­ered an emol­u­ments case pre­vi­ously, and some le­gal ex­perts doubt any judge will al­low such cases to pro­ceed.

Be­cause Trump con­tin­ues to ben­e­fit fi­nan­cially from his ho­tel, re­sort and golf prop­er­ties — in some cases from clients af­fil­i­ated with for­eign gov­ern­ments — Frosh and Racine al­leged in their June com­plaint that Trump had com­mit­ted “un­prece­dented con­sti­tu­tional vi­o­la­tions.”

State spend­ing that ben­e­fits the pres­i­dent may be con­sid­ered a vi­o­la­tion of the do­mes­tic emol­u­ment clause, which says the pres­i­dent “shall not re­ceive” any emol­u­ment, other than fixed com­pen­sa­tion, from “the United States, or any of them.”

That pro­vi­sion brings into ques­tion spend­ing by state of­fi­cials at Trump prop­er­ties, which may be more likely as the prop­er­ties host an in­creas­ing num­ber of Repub­li­can con­gres­sional fundrais­ers and cam­paign events.

For in­stance, on Tues­day night at Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton, Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton was spot­ted at­tend­ing an an­niver­sary party cel­e­brat­ing Trump’s 2016 cam­paign vic­tory.

Pax­ton’s of­fice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a ques­tion about whether state money was spent at the ho­tel. Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Jus­tice Depart­ment at­tor­neys asked Mes­sitte to dis­miss the case in Septem­ber, and in a fil­ing last month, agency at­tor­neys ar­gued that no ev­i­dence should be sought “through sub­poe­nas or other mech­a­nisms” in the mean­time.

Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment. The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, now run by the pres­i­dent’s adult sons, Don­ald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, has said it plans to do­nate prof­its from for­eign gov­ern­ments at the Trump ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton at year’s end.

Racine and Frosh’s case is one of a hand­ful of suits brought by states, watchdog groups or busi­nesses over emol­u­ments.

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