Democrats sue agency for documents on Trump hotel

Democrats sue agency for documents on Trump hotel
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Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have filed a lawsuit against President Trump’s administration over documents related to Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Democrats, led by ranking member Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law Top Dem: EPA slowed ‘politically charged’ FOIA requests Top Dem displays posters of ‘guilty’ subjects in Mueller probe MORE (R-Md.), filed the lawsuit Thursday and said the administration is withholding documents related to the hotel.

“This lawsuit is not just about a hotel in Washington D.C.,” Cummings said in a statement. “This is about the President defying a federal statute and denying our ability as Members of Congress to fulfill our constitutional duty to act as a check on the Executive Branch.”

The lawmakers are seeking documents related to the hotel’s operations, foreign payments to the hotel and documents on the General Service Administration’s (GSA) ruling that Trump’s hotel was in “full compliance” with terms of its lease that prohibit elected officials from holding the lease or receiving benefits.

The Democrats said in a press release that they are seeking the documents to determine if Trump is using the presidency for “private gain” and to investigate the extent to which the hotel is “receiving payments from foreign governments or officials.”

Cummings said the GSA has failed to comply with the committee’s request for documents since Trump took office in January.

“Under the previous administration, this exact same agency — GSA — explicitly recognized our authority under this exact same statute — the Seven Member statute — and produced documents on this exact same issue — the Trump Hotel. But all that stopped on January 20,” Cummings said.  “There is one thing, and one thing only, that has changed in this case — President Trump is now sitting in the Oval Office.”

The members filed the lawsuit in United States District Court in Washington under a federal law known as the “Seven Member” statute, which says a federal agency “shall” turn over documents when requested by any seven members of the committee.

Cummings blamed the lawsuit on House Oversight Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy rules out Rosenstein impeachment Russians' indictment casts shadow ahead of Trump-Putin summit Gowdy: I don't think Mueller probe is a witch hunt MORE (R-S.C), saying Gowdy and other House Republicans are “aiding and abetting President Trump’s ongoing abuses.”

“Republicans are essentially walling off President Trump from credible congressional oversight,” Cummings said.

The Trump administration has 60 days to file a response to the lawsuit, according to the complaint.

Trump’s Washington hotel has been the source of ongoing controversy for Trump. In August, the Government Accountability Office and the GSA’s inspector general announced they were investigating the Trump Organization’s lease of the Old Post Office building, where the hotel is located.