This Week in Conflicts: Trump Properties Received Millions During Midterms, Latest on Emoluments Lawsuit and a Look at Giuliani’s Connections to Russia


This week, a look at the millions of dollars President Donald Trump’s properties brought in during the midterm election period, the latest on the emoluments lawsuit, a look at Rudy Giuliani’s connections to Russia and more trademarks in China for Ivanka Trump.

Mar-a-Lago Resort (Image credit: Christine Davis)

Trump Properties Received $3.2 Million During Midterms

Throughout the two-year midterm election cycle, campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 million at Trump-branded properties, CNN is reporting.

According to CNN, the Republican National Committee spent more than any other group, spending at least $1.2 million at the properties since the beginning of 2017. About half of that money was spent at two of President Trump’s properties: the Trump National Doral Miami and Mar-A-Lago.

The president’s reelection campaign spent more than $950,000 at Trump properties during that same time period, according to CNN. Other Trump properties receiving money from campaigns and PACs since the beginning of 2017 include Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., Trump Tower in New York City and Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.

The news organization analyzed Federal Election Commission filings and in the article said the total amount spent at the properties owned by President Trump could increase after the post-election FEC reports are published.

President Donald Trump stands with Airman as he prepares to address armed forces members at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 15, 2017. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delano Scott)

Trump Investigations Coming

With the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Trump Inc. podcast explores what types of investigations could be coming for President Trump.

Some questions lawmakers have said they want to try to get answers to include if President Trump, his family or his friends are profiting off him being in the White House and if the President is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution. The emoluments clause bans public officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress.

Some lawmakers who have vowed to look into the relationship between President Trump’s businesses and his administration include:

  • Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) who said he’ll request Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department
  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) who said he will investigate policies “that enable pervasive corruption to influence decision-making at the highest levels of government.”
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) who said he will look at “areas inquiry the majority ignored or prevented us from investigating,” which includes the Trump Organization’s business practices.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Image Credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore)

Giuliani and Russia

Another recent episode of the Trump, Inc. podcast took a look at Giuliani’s connections to leaders in Russia.

According to the episode, the attorney to President Trump travels to Russia and other former Soviet states often and since the President was elected, those visits have increased.

Last month, “Giuliani appeared in the former Soviet republic of Armenia, which has close trade ties with Russia,” the podcast reports. “He was invited, according to local press accounts, by Ara Abramyan, an Armenian businessman who lives in Russia…Giuliani said he was in Armenia as a private citizen, but on a local TV news show, Abramyan implied that he expected Giuliani to carry a message for him to Trump. (The conversation was in Armenian, so it’s not clear whether Giuliani understood what Abramyan was saying.)”

The podcast episode explores the details of these visits, tries to determine whether or not Giuliani is getting paid for these trips and whether or not the travel breaks any rules or laws (it does not appear that it does.)

President Donald J. Trump arrives on Air Force One to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 2, 2017. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daylena S. Ricks)

Emoluments Lawsuit Latest

Earlier this month a federal judge ruled discovery in one of the emoluments lawsuits alleging President Trump violated the constitutional clause that bans public officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress can move forward.

According to CNN, this latest ruling raises the possibility that “transactions between the Trump International Hotel and foreign dignitaries might be made public.”

The lawsuit was brought by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland and is focused on money earned at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. They allege that the hotel’s operations put local hotels and businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

“Accordingly, the President’s ownership interest in the Trump International Hotel and his apparent receipt of benefits from at least some foreign and state governments, as well as from the Federal Government itself, suggest that he has received ’emoluments’ in violation of the Constitution, giving rise to plausible causes of action against him brought by parties with standing,” the judge’s opinion read.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine talked to WNYC and ProPublica during a recent Trump, Inc. podcast about what documents their team is trying to obtain. Listen to the episode here.

President Donald J. Trump is greeted by Maj. Gen. John K. McMullen, Air Combat Command vice commander, Col. Caroline Miller, 633rd Air Base Wing commander, and Col. Peter Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 2, 2017. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Areca T. Bell)

President’s Role in Stormy Daniels Payments

The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth article explaining President Trump’s role in payments to two women who have said they had sexual affairs with the president before he took office.

According to the article, President Trump was involved “nearly every step” of the hush-money agreements and his participation in the deals could mean the president violated campaign finance laws. The payments were made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen has admitted he made payments to the women at the direction of a candidate for political office. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in August.

The Wall Street Journal cites dozens of interviews and documents throughout their report. President Trump has denied knowing about the $130,000 payment made to Daniels.

President Donald Trump talks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Friday, March 17, 2017, in the outer Oval Office, joined by White House Advisor Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Image Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

More Trademarks for Ivanka

Ivanka Trump was granted 16 more trademarks from China for fashion accessories and other items, according to CNN.

The trademark applications were made this March and May and received preliminary approvals last month. The applications were related to fashion-related items like shoes and handbags but, according to CNN, “one was for an unspecified item in a category that covers voting machines, as well as gadgets and electronics ranging from cameras and telephones to semiconductors.”

Earlier this year Ivanka announced she was shutting down her business.

The White House did not comment on the most recent trademark approvals. Previously when other trademarks were approved, a spokesperson with Ivanka Trump’s company said the fashion line regularly filed these applications, “especially in areas where trademark infringement was rampant,” CNN reports.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.