Appeals court allows Trump emoluments case to move forward

A federal appeals court in New York on Friday ruled that a lawsuit accusing President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE of violating the Emoluments Clause can proceed after a lower court had thrown out the case.

A panel of judges with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has alleged that the president violated the constitutional clause by refusing to put his business assets in a blind trust while in office and profiting off the presidency.

But the case had been dismissed by a lower court in December 2017.

"Plaintiffs have plausibly pleaded that the President’s ownership of hospitality businesses that compete with them will induce government patrons of the hospitality industry to favor Trump businesses over those of the Plaintiffs so as to secure favorable governmental action from the President and Executive branch," Judge Pierre Leval wrote in the decision.

The majority decision was written by two judges appointed by Presidents Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump sues to block NY prosecutors' subpoena for his tax returns Most voters say there is too much turnover in Trump administration RNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' MORE and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaKrystal Ball tears into 'Never Trump' Republicans Sanders campaign announces it contacted over 1 million Iowa voters Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE, while the dissenter was appointed by President George H.W. Bush. 

CREW welcomed the reinstatement of the case.

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"If President Trump would like to avoid the case going further and curtail the serious harms caused by his unconstitutional conduct, now would be a good time to divest from his businesses and end his violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution," Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

The ruling revives yet another lawsuit for Trump to defend against. He is also warding off legal challenges involving his tax returns, and his administration is facing numerous legal challenges of its policies on immigration, health care and other topics.

Watchdogs have raised concerns about the president's decision not to put his company in a blind trust, noting that lobbyists, foreign officials and political insiders may frequent his businesses to earn favor with the administration.

The issue has gained new urgency as lawmakers and watchdogs raise concerns about government officials' use of Trump properties.

The president last month suggested he may host world leaders at next year's Group of Seven (G-7) summit at his Doral resort near Miami, and the Air Force is looking into its pilots habit of staying at Trump's property in Turnberry, Scotland, while refueling.

Multiple lawsuits have alleged Trump is in violation of  the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without Congress’s approval. 

A federal appeals court dismissed an emoluments lawsuit last month filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, but a separate emoluments lawsuit brought by Democratic lawmakers is still proceeding through the court system.

"I got sued on a thing called emoluments. Emoluments. You ever hear of the word? Nobody ever heard of it before," Trump said at a speech in Pennsylvania last month. "And what it is is presidential harassment, because [the presidency] is costing me a fortune, and I love it."