WASHINGTON – A Trump real estate company was registered in Maryland only two months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, but its intentions in the state — if any — remain a mystery.
But the company, T International Realty LLC, already is listed as “not in good standing,” because it failed to file an annual report or personal property tax return with the state before this year’s deadline, public records show.
The company, also known as Trump International Realty, is part of a lawsuit led by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, alleging that Trump is violating the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution.
The Trump company was registered with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation in March of 2017 (Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017), and listed the company’s main office address as Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, records show.
Companies file documents like the ones the Trump company filed in Maryland when they intend to do business in the state, but it is unclear what the company’s plans are.
Trump International Realty is the alias of T International Realty, a company incorporated in Delaware in 2012. In one of the Maryland filings, the company states its purpose as “to provide real estate brokerage and related services.”
The Maryland filing was signed by manager Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons.
When a company wants to do business in Maryland, it must register with the state, said Sharon Kroupa, a Baltimore attorney and chair of the business law section of the Maryland State Bar Association.
“It’s very common,” she said.
What constitutes doing business, and thus requires a company to register, can sometimes be ambiguous.
“This is something that’s not clear cut,” Kroupa said.
Beyond its appearance in a handful of public records, T International Realty appears to have no footprints yet in Maryland, based on a Capital News Service review. The state filings do not reveal what type of presence a company has in the state.
Trump International Realty or T International Realty is not the owner of any Maryland real estate, based on a search of property records in all Maryland counties. However, Trump companies historically have been known to buy and sell property with shell companies to conceal buyer identities.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s real estate company, Westminster Management, owns large apartment complexes in Baltimore. The firm has faced lawsuits in Maryland over its treatment of apartment tenants.
T International Realty in Maryland is managed by National Registered Agents, Inc. of MD, in the northern Baltimore suburb of Timonium, Maryland. The firm did not respond to a request for comment, but its website says the company policy is to keep all client information strictly confidential.
The Trump company did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
A lawsuit filed by Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine alleges that Trump’s businesses violate the Constitution’s Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.
The clauses aim to ensure the government works in the country’s best interest by preventing foreign and domestic governments from giving money and other valuables to federal officials.
Frosh and Racine allege that Trump, because he still owns and controls his companies, has violated the provisions. The attorneys general argued that properties like the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where Republican lawmakers and foreign dignitaries choose to stay, eat and hold events, benefit Trump while simultaneously taking money away from District and Maryland businesses.
In the filing, the attorneys also allege that Trump and his affiliated enterprises have a “large and expanding portfolio of real estate holdings,” and point out that Trump International Realty, otherwise known as T International Realty LLC, is registered to conduct business in Maryland.
“As part of that case, our offices will seek more information regarding the president’s business dealings as part of the discovery process,” Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Frosh’s office, told Capital News Service.
In addition to the lawsuit, Trump and his companies have been under increasing scrutiny in the on-going Russia investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and by Democratic lawmakers in Congress, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, who in January will become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Cummings and other lawmakers have charged that the president cancelled plans to relocate the FBI’s headquarters, which is located on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the Trump hotel, to “prevent Trump Hotel competitors from acquiring the land,” according to an Oct. 18 letter to General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy.
Trump was personally involved in the decision, the lawmakers said, which ended years of planning to move the FBI to one of three sites identified in suburban Maryland and northern Virginia.
“As a direct result of President Trump’s clear conflict of interest in this matter, we are now requesting information and documents to determine whether the president is making decisions about the FBI headquarters building based on what is best for the country or what is best for his own financial bottom-line,” the Democrats wrote.
In addition to Cummings, the other Democrats signing the letter are likely to become chairmen of their respective committees in January, when they will have the power to request documents and call witnesses to public hearings.
A corporate charter and trade name application for T International Realty was submitted to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation’s Baltimore office. Documents said that the company paid $225 to have the documents filed with the state.
The corporate charter application states that the company had not done any business in Maryland before registering.
The Trump International Realty website lists luxury properties and offers high-priced real estate in New York, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and New Jersey.
In North Carolina, Trump International Realty has listings for many properties, and T International Realty has been registered there since 2013. The company also registered in California in 2013. Documents in both states were signed by Donald Trump, who is listed as the company’s manager.