DOJ lawyer argues president not responsible for foreign guests staying at Trump hotels

DOJ lawyer argues president not responsible for foreign guests staying at Trump hotels
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A Trump administration attorney argued Monday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE is not violating conflict of interest laws when foreign officials stay at his hotels.

Brett Shumate, a deputy assistant attorney general, maintained in federal court that the president should not be held responsible for foreign officials who attempt to "sow favor" with the Trump administration, CNN reported.

The argument came as part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) effort to dismiss a case claiming Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.


When the federal judge in the case asked the difference between sowing favor and bribery, Shumate argued that bribery requires "some corrupt intent," according to CNN.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte, who was appointed by former President Clinton, will reportedly decide by the end of July whether the case will proceed.

Maryland and Washington, D.C., are suing the president, claiming he is profiting from his office when foreign officials patronize his properties in an attempt to garner favor with Trump. 

The Trump administration has previously sought to dismiss the case, but Messitte denied the DOJ's request.

The Emoluments Clause prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without congressional approval.

Three separate lawsuits have been brought against the Trump administration claiming that the president is in violation of the clause. One was dismissed in December.

A judge heard arguments last week in another case brought in Washington, D.C., by Democratic lawmakers. 

The lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), say they’ve been injured because they’ve been denied their constitutional right to vote on whether Trump can accept the payments, benefits and gifts.