Judge dismisses lawsuit against Trump and DC hotel brought by restaurant owners

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Trump and DC hotel brought by restaurant owners
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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Gov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump Sotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administration MORE and his Trump International Hotel that claimed the hotel gets an unfair business advantage from its affiliation with the president.

The lawsuit was filed last year by Cork Wine Bar. The owners argued that foreign leaders, lobbyists and government officials were more likely to book at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., because of Trump's influence.


“If they have a party to book, they’re going to book it there first, whether to gain influence with the president, to gain influence with the administration,” the restaurant's attorney Scott Rome said last year. “And he shows up there on weekends, so you get personal face time by going there.”

Judge Richard Leon of the District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in a ruling Monday that Cork Wine Bar "failed to state a claim for unfair competition."

Leon said he cannot bar public figures, including Trump, from "taking equity in the companies they promote."

Leon also wrote that "there are constitutional questions of profound weight and import lurking within this case" but added that Cork Wine Bar had failed to make a claim of unfair competition. 

"The pending motions can be resolved without opening that Pandora's box of novel issues. Thus ... I have concluded on the merits that Cork has failed to state a claim of unfair competition under D.C. law," Leon wrote.

Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts, the owners of the Cork Wine Bar, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill last year that they were suing Trump because the hotel and its dining establishments were "not playing fairly."

"The president's name, well-known ownership and presence give the Trump International Hotel a big leg up in winning the competition of attracting diners and tourists, and hosting lucrative events where many people gather to drink and dine or even more intimate political dinners," they wrote.

They also argued that the hotel was in violation of its lease, which prevents any elected officials from having an ownership stake "in the hotel where he or she receives benefits while in elective office."

The lawsuit filed by the Cork Wine Bar is separate from one alleging Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments through his D.C. hotel.

The Emoluments Clause bans a sitting president from taking gifts or payments from foreign or domestic governments.