The Justice Department finds itself mired in a high-stakes game of warding off pending evidence requests in a state attorneys general emoluments lawsuit against Donald Trump, but took an odd tack in emergency appeal: citing a Mount Vernon tourist website to claim that George Washington did business with foreign governments.
The website lists “Ten Facts About the Gristmill” at Mount Vernon, providing tidbits for tourists, elementary school students preparing reports on American history, and DOJ attorneys tasked with advocating on behalf of the president.
The Justice Department cited the website as an example of how Washington’s plantation would “export flour and cornmeal to ‘England, Portugal, and the island of Jamaica.'”
New York City attorney Luppe Luppen, known widely by his Twitter handle Southpaw, first pointed out the “questionable sourcing” in a thread on Twitter.
I looked DOJ's sources up, and it's not too impressive. I'd be a touch embarrassed to quote directly from a page like this, which doesn't cite its own sources of information, in a Circuit Court brief. https://t.co/JwPPhr3coR pic.twitter.com/6A86wUGjou
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) December 17, 2018
Trump attorneys also cite DC property records from 1793 in which Washington bought land from the federal government to argue that Trump’s hotel business with the federal government is not “a prohibited emolument.”
The filing comes in an appellate brief trying to halt discovery in the emoluments case. Responses to 38 subpoenas that state attorneys general sent in the case are due on Jan. 3. Trump is asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop discovery in the case from proceeding.