WASHINGTON – A former Trump hotel located blocks from the White House that inspired a battle with congressional Democrats is at the center of a dispute that the Supreme Court on Mondayagreed to resolve.
At issue is a 2017 request from a group of Democrats who demanded the Trump administration provide records about how the former president obtained the rights to develop the government-owned building into a hotel. The property became a regular haunt for foreign dignitaries and GOP officials during Trump’s presidency.
When the administration declined to provide all of those records to the House Oversight Committee, the lawmakers sued.
The hotel itself is no longer controversial: Trump left office in 2021 and the Trump Organization sold its lease for the hotel, now a Waldorf Astoria, a year later. But there are enormous balance-of-power issues at stake for future presidents.
If the Democratic lawmakers win, it could give members of the minority in Congress more power to probe a presidential administration of the opposite party – even though they wouldn’t have the votes needed to issue a subpoena.
Trump and Biden administration officials have both fought the lawmakers’ request.
“A congressional minority – ‘or even an ideological fringe of the minority’ – could bring cases to ‘distract and harass executive agencies and their most senior officials,'” the Biden administration told the Supreme Court in November, opposing the appeal.
A federal trial court in Washington, D.C., dismissed the lawsuit in 2018, concluding that the lawmakers didn’t have standing to sue. But a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed that decision on a 2-1 vote in 2020.
The case is Carnahan v. Maloney.