Judge rejects Trump attempt to dismiss emoluments clause lawsuit
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected President Trump’s effort to block a lawsuit accusing him of profiting from doing business with foreign governments in violation of the Constitution.
The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia claim in a lawsuit that Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without congressional approval.
While Trump’s attorneys argued that the clause was limited to outright bribes given to the president, U.S. District Judge Peter Missette, an appointee of President Clinton, wrote in a court order that the plaintiffs “convincingly argued” that the law applies to a broader range of potential violations.
“The Court determines that Plaintiffs have convincingly argued that the term ’emolument’ in both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses, with slight refinements that the Court will address, means any ‘profit,’ ‘gain,’ or ‘advantage’ and that accordingly they have stated claims to the effect that the President, in certain instances, has violated both the Foreign and Domestic Clauses,” Missette wrote.
Trump is facing multiple lawsuits, both as president and as an individual, over alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause.
The lawsuit addressed in court Wednesday focuses on the profit Trump makes from foreign officials staying in his Washington, D.C., hotel.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine called the judge’s ruling Wednesday a “substantial step forward to ensure President Trump stops violating our nation’s original anti-corruption laws.”
“We sued because this corruption is taking place in our backyard, and because 325 million Americans shouldn’t have to wonder if the president is putting his personal financial interests ahead of the national interest,” Racine said in a statement.
A judge in the Southern District of New York dismissed one case late last year that had been brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog organization.
Another lawsuit, brought by Democratic lawmakers in D.C., is still working its way through the court system.
The president has drawn scrutiny for failing to fully divest from his business interests after taking office. Instead, he placed his assets in a trust controlled by Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Updated at 4:31 p.m.