Supreme Court Drops Case over Trump Hotel Documents

June 26, 2023

The Supreme Court on Monday dropped a case brought by House Democrats to obtain federal information about former President Trump’s lease of a Washington DC building he used as a hotel. 

Last month, the Supreme Court said it would take up the Democrats’ years-old legal bid; however, House lawmakers—now under Republican-majority control—are apparently no longer pursuing the case. 

It surrounded Trump International Hotel, formerly the Old Post Office building in the nation’s capital, which opened shortly before Trump became President in 2016. 

Soon after Election Day that year, 11 Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, led by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, requested unredacted lease documents and expense reports related to the Old Post Office. They had invoked a federal law directing executive agencies to turn over certain information to federal oversight committees. 

Congress’ so-called “seven-member rule” allows seven or more oversight committee members—fewer than a majority—in either the House or Senate to request and receive information from government agencies.

The Biden Administration argued that if a lower court ruling was allowed to stand, it would harm the independence of the executive branch and turn what had always been a negotiation with the legislative branch into immediate litigation.

The Supreme Court’s dropping of the case postpones any potential opinion on whether a minority of members of a Congressional committee can be allowed to demand executive branch documents.

The hotel became a point of controversy because from the start of Trump’s presidency he used it to profit from Republican politicians, companies and foreign governments in exchange for political favors. That was despite the hotel’s lease being held by the General Services Administration (GSA) and, Democrats and others had asserted, in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

In 2021, just days after Trump left office, the Supreme Court tossed several outside emoluments lawsuits related to the hotel. In 2022, the Trump family sold the hotel to a Miami investor group that rebranded it as a Waldorf Astoria. 

Six of the House lawmakers who filed the initial lawsuit in 2017, including the late Cummings, no longer serve in Congress. 

The Supreme Court had initially planned to hear arguments in the now-dropped case this fall.

PHOTO: Trump International Hotel DC 2018

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