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Sean Shaw vows to investigate Donald Trump if elected Attorney General

“The hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian shell company money that has reportedly been pumped into Trump properties over the past 20 years raises troubling questions about how the president is conducting his business," Shaw said.
Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, Sean Shaw. [OCTAVIO JONES | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 7, 2018
Updated Sep. 7, 2018

Democratic attorney general nominee Sean Shaw promises that if elected, he'll investigate Donald Trump's Florida businesses for possible Russian money laundering and will join a lawsuit by other state attorneys general accusing Trump of violating the "foreign emoluments" clause of the Constitution.

That's a clause prohibiting the president from personally profiting from dealings with foreign governments.

"The hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian shell company money that has reportedly been pumped into Trump properties over the past 20 years raises troubling questions about how the president is conducting his business … and what he's getting in return," Shaw told a group of reporters in front of the Trump International Beach Resort in Miami on Thursday.

Shaw said Trump "is using the office of the presidency to personally enrich himself. … Special interest groups and foreign governments have pumped money into properties like this in order to curry favor with the president. That's unacceptable and I won't sit by like Pam Bondi and allow it to happen."

The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by the Democratic state attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

It argues, among other things, that because of dealings between Trump's business interests and foreign entities, Americans cannot know whether decisions by his administration are being made in the best interests of the nation.

It cited bookings by government entities from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere at the Trump International Hotel near the White House, saying the Trump property drew business away from other, nearby public and private facilities.

The two attorneys general, Karl A. Racine of D.C. and Brian E. Frosh of Maryland, have said they would seek to force Trump to turn over his tax returns so they can determine his profits from dealings with foreign entities.

Trump administration officials have called the lawsuit a political ploy, and argued that the term "emoluments" doesn't include money Trump's businesses make from hotel bookings.

In July, in a decision hinging on the meaning of the term, which isn't specifically defined in the Constitution, a judge denied a request by Trump through the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit.

Shaw said the Trump resort near Miami has been nicknamed "Little Moscow," and that 60 Russians have bought $100 million worth of units there, including Russian government officials and a Ukrainian involved in a money laundering scheme that also involved a former Ukrainian prime minister.

Because Trump has refused to release his tax returns after promising during his campaign to do so, Shaw said, "It's fair to ask, what's he scared of, what's he hiding."

Shaw, a Tampa consumer insurance lawyer, also used the occasion to take a shot at his opponent, Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County judge and political ally of current Attorney General Pam Bondi.

"Pam Bondi had eight years to investigate Donald Trump – instead, she took $25,000 from him," Shaw said. "Ashley Moody has promised to be an extension of Pam Bondi."

That referred to a political contribution from a Trump foundation to Bondi's 2014 re-election campaign, made around the time Bondi's office decided not to pursue investigations of complaints from Floridians they had been ripped off by real estate seminars offered by another Trump business, Trump University.

Moody campaign manager Nick Catroppo responded via email that she "will continue to speak to the issues important to Floridians, like supporting our law enforcement, addressing the opioid crisis and elder abuse. Floridians do not need to be distracted by partisan political rhetoric."

Shaw's speech is here — https://www.facebook.com/sshawfl/videos/329330717819630/.

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