This Week in Conflicts: Lawsuit Against Trump Org. Can Move Forward, Mueller Testifies and Subpoenas for Ivanka and Jared


President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, addresses his remarks at the Pentagon Thursday, January 17, 2019, announcing the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

This week, a judge ruled part of a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his company can move forward, Robert Mueller testified and both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump may soon be subpoenaed for records from private text messages and WhatsApp.

President Donald Trump, joined by First Daughter Ivanka Trump talks with NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer onboard the International Space Station Monday, April 24, 2017 from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The President congratulated Whitson for breaking the record for cumulative time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut. The President and First Daughter were also joined by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and discussed with the three astronauts what it is like to live and work on the orbiting outpost as well as the importance of STEM. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Lawsuit Against Trump Org. Can Move Forward

A federal judge said President Trump must face part of a lawsuit that says he and his company used the Trump name to promote sham marketing opportunities, Reuters is reporting.

“U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan said the plaintiffs, including investors in a Trump-endorsed business called American Communications Network, could pursue state law-based claims of fraud, false advertising and unfair competition,” according to the article.

The ruling allows the lawsuit to move forward against the president, his adult children and an affiliate of the Trump Organization. The judge is only allowing part of the lawsuit to move forward; he dismissed the racketeering claims at the center of the case.

“In seeking a dismissal, the Trumps called the lawsuit politically motivated,” according to Reuters.

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)

Investigating the President

The House voted this week to endorse all the chamber’s subpoenas related to President Trump, his administration and his company.

“The language in the bill ‘affirms all current and future investigations, as well as all subpoenas previously issued or to be issued in the future’ and says House committee subpoenas are endorsed by the chamber,” according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, as CBS News reports, the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to prosecutors in New York asking if prosecutors have identified “evidence of criminal conduct by Donald Trump” while he was president but didn’t bring charges, “as they would have for any other individual.”

In the letter, the committee is referring to “the Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted,” according to CBS. Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the Committee, said the letter was sent because he doesn’t trust Attorney General William Barr.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller on July 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Mueller Testimony

In case you missed it, Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, testified this week at two separate hearings.

Key takeaways, according to CNN, include:

  • Mueller saying they did not indict the president because of the OLC guidance (which concluded that prosecution of the president by the DOJ has the potential to create a separation of powers conflict with Congress) then later correcting himself and saying that because of the OLC guidance there was no decision either way on whether to indict.
  • Mueller defended not subpoenaing the President because of the prolonged process to fight over it. 
  • Mueller condemned the behavior of the President and his son in commenting and interacting with WikiLeaks.
  • Mueller said he felt the president was not truthful in his written answers.

USA Today summed up Mueller’s testimony this way: “he was straightforward in his testimony: No viral moments, no bombshells.”

In the Trump, Inc. podcast, WNYC Studios and ProPublica discuss the questions they still have for Mueller.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at the Charleston International Airport, February 2017. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Ryan Johnson)

Subpoenas for Jared and Ivanka

This week a House committee authorized subpoenas to be issued for records tied to private texts for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

According to Bloomberg, the subpoenas would cover “records and documents tied to the use of private texts and emails for official business by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and other officials.”

Democrats on the committee voted in favor of issuing the subpoenas, and the Republicans on the committee opposed the action. 

“The Oversight subpoenas also will demand all communications discussing whether the private messages contain classified information, including those sent through encrypted applications such as WhatsApp,” according to Bloomberg.

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.