The Constitution‘s emoluments clause, a provision to prevent foreign governments’ bribery of federal officials, states:
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. –Article 1, section 9″
Trump retains ownership of his company as president despite insisting he was transferring business assets to a blind trust his sons Eric and Donald Jr. would manage to avoid potential conflicts of interests.
Several months ago, a federal judge in New York paved the way for a potential lawsuit when he challenged attorneys to explain Donald Trump’s innocence against the charge of violating the constitution’s clause when foreign government officials stay at his hotels.
In June, District of Columbia attorney Karl A. Racine and Maryland attorney general Brian E. Frosh filed a lawsuit against Trump, stating the president violated the emoluments clause through his continual acceptance of millions of dollars and benefits from foreign governments.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte ruled the states have standing and the lawsuit can proceed.
“Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that the President is violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution by reason of his involvement with and receipt of benefits from the Trump International Hotel and its appurtenances in Washington, D.C. as well as the operations of the Trump Organization with respect to the same. Plaintiffs have demonstrated their standing to challenge those purported violations because they have shown injury-in-fact, fairly traceable to the President’s acts, and that the injury is likely redressable by the Court.”
This decision is based on the conclusion that states have successfully demonstrated the advantages Trump’s businesses have gained over others, like taxpayer-funded hotels.
As the Washington Post reported, Trump’s D.C. hotel receives business that could go to the public Washington Convention Center or hotels in Maryland.
Messitte argued the caveat that while states have standing to sue over the Trump Organization’s D.C. hotel, they do not have standing pertaining to other properties, like Mar-a-Lago, or properties in other countries; therefore the case is limited to the Maryland and D.C. area.
Nonetheless, this proves states may proceed with litigation against the president, which could result to further discovery and disclosures.
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