Attorney generals from Maryland and Washington D.C. in the United States have issued a flurry of 30 subpoenas to the Trump Organization Inc, the U.S. President Donald Trump's privately owned real estate company, and other related corporate entities Tuesday.
A federal judge signed orders for the subpoena's on behalf of attorneys formally demanding the financial records from Trump's businesses, including tax returns, as part of a lawsuit filed in 2017 alleging that his dealings with foreign governments have violated anti-corruption clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
This comes one day after U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte began the case’s discovery phase — allowing those involved in the lawsuit to demand answers to specific questions and request sensitive documents.
The U.S. Department of Justice is defending Trump in the legal case. U.S. government lawyers said in a court filing Friday that they plan to request an appeals court to halt discovery and review earlier rulings by Messitte that had allowed the case to proceed.
If the U.S. President and his legal team chooses to ignore the subpoenas, it would result in a contempt of court, Professor George Brown of Boston College Law School said.
This development in the case will bring about further discoveries into the Trump business empire, Brown said, according to Reuters. "It will probably tell us a lot we don't know because nobody is going to hide that stuff in the face of a subpoena," he added.
The lawsuit cites the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” clauses, which prosecutors accuse Trump of violating.
Those constitutional clauses are designed to prevent government corruption and foreign influence, barring U.S. officials from accepting gifts or money from foreign governments without congressional approval and forbidding the president from receiving similar favors from individual states.