Federal appeals court throws out emoluments clause lawsuit involving Trump hotel

Elias Hubbard
July 11, 2019

The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia sued in 2017, claiming Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at his luxury Washington hotel.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Maryland and D.C. don't have standing to complain about Mr. Trump's actions.

Trump celebrated the unanimous ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Twitter.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had won "a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt".

At the 4th Circuit, Trump's attorneys were appealing a ruling from a District Court judge in Maryland who allowed the case to move forward and adopted a broad definition of the emoluments ban to include "profit, gain, or advantage" received "directly or indirectly" from foreign, federal or state governments.

"I don't make money, but lose a fortune for the honour of serving and doing a great job as your President (including accepting Zero salary!)", he added.

The panel of three judges decided that D.C. and Maryland "lack standing" to continue with their case. The appeals court fulfilled both requests, dismissing the complaint with prejudice.

The lawsuit alleges that, in failing to disengage from the hotel, Trump has made himself vulnerable to inducements by foreign governments seeking to curry favour, violating the Constitution.

Shortly before he becoming president, Mr Trump stepped back from running his company - the Trump Organization - however he still retains ownership of the real estate empire.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, released a statement that cheered the ruling.

A similar case brought by almost 200 congressional Democrats in the District of Columbia's federal court also deals with the idea that Trump is using the presidency for his personal profit, but that case is uniquely different in that the Congress is specifically mentioned in the emoluments clause itself.

A general view of the Trump International Hotel, in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 2019.

Like so much else in Mr. Trump's presidency, his opponents filed multiple lawsuits, which are now playing out.

The lawsuit brought by the state attorneys general was one of several emoluments cases that accuse Trump of benefitting from foreign government business in violation of a constitutional prohibition on the receipt of things of value from foreign states.

"The District and Maryland's theory of proprietary harm hinges on the conclusion that government customers are patronizing the Hotel because the Hotel distributes profits or dividends to the President".

"The decision states that there was no legal standing to bring this lawsuit in the first place".

All three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents. In that case in another court, nearly 200 Congressional Democrats, led by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, are seeking a court order compelling Trump to come to them for permission before accepting any foreign-government-derived benefits, as they contend the Constitution requires him to do.

"Today's pair of decisions by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is a complete victory", he said in the statement. "We will continue to pursue our legal options to hold him accountable".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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