Several months ago, a lawsuit was filed by Washington D.C. and Maryland against Mr. Trump over his business conflicts, as he is alleged to have violated the Emoluments Clause. About a week ago, a summons was sent to the president himself at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., notifying him that he was headed for court.
Trump, of course, challenged the lawsuit, and on Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that that the case against him may continue. According to WAMU 88.5:
‘The attorneys general for both states argue in a lawsuit that Trump is violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which in part bans public officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without approval from Congress.’
However, the judge did issue some requirements. According to The New York Times:
‘A lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses cleared a critical hurdle Wednesday when a federal judge in Maryland refused the Justice Department’s plea to dismiss it. The decision could allow the plaintiffs to scrutinize the Trump Organization’s financial records for payments from foreign entities and others possibly seeking to influence the White House.’
‘The emoluments case raises basic questions that have never been litigated. It is neither clear what constitutes an illegal benefit to the president or whether any legal remedy exists if the president accepts one. During a January court hearing, Judge Messitte seemed to acknowledge that the case would be ultimately decided by a higher court than this.’
Regardless of what happens in the end, this case is a significant step in the quest of the plaintiffs to show that the president crossed a constitutional line. The judge gave his opinion, saying that they had legal standing:
‘to challenge the actions of the president with respect to the Trump International Hotel and its appurtenances in Washington D.C., as well as the Trump Organization with respect to them.’
According to The Times:
‘The plaintiffs claim that in hopes of currying presidential favor, government officials are patronizing Trump-owned properties instead of hotels or convention centers in which the District of Columbia or Maryland has a financial interest. Those payments, they contend, constitute illegal benefits that violate both the foreign emoluments clauses of the Constitution.’
However, lawyers for the Justice Department have argued that there is no proof that Washington or Maryland’s hotels or other facilities are losing business due to Trump’s properties. Trump’s attorneys also say that even if it were proven to be the case, it does not amount to a constitutional violation by Mr. Trump.