Justice Department steps in to block whistleblowers from seeing Trump’s Washington DC hotel financial records
According to an Associated Press report, Justice Department lawyers stepped in late Friday and asked a judge to hold off on letting outsiders review financial data related to President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington D.C.
In response to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, who is based in Maryland, to allow a lawsuit demanding access to the records to go forward, the Justice Department asked for a stay while they appeal his decision to a higher court in Richmond, Virginia.
According to the report, allowing the case to go forward could “potentially unearth financial records such as Trump’s income tax returns.”
Plaintiffs in the case indicated they are seeking “information from the hotel, a Trump hotel steakhouse, and the General Services Administration as well as the president’s financial records.”
Justice Department lawyers objected by stating the “public interest is decidedly in favor of a stay because any discovery would necessarily be a distraction to the President’s performance of his constitutional duties.”
In response, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine issued a statement saying: “After winning two major rulings in this case already, we anticipated President Trump’s most recent motion. Nonetheless, our case is still moving forward. We are on track to propose a schedule for discovery by September 14, and we hope to request relevant documents shortly thereafter.”
Whistleblowers are hoping to use discovery to make a case for the president violating the emoluments clause, banning Trump from profiting off of his presidency.