Attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland allege that Donald Trump has been and continues to violate the “Emoluments Clause” — otherwise known as Title of Nobility Clause, which is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution. The clause forbids elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without Congressional approval.
Washington D.C. radio station WAMU reported the lawsuit is filed against Trump in his “official capacity and in his individual capacity.”
The reason D.C. and Maryland Attorneys general have entered the fray is that the lawsuit also argues that businesses in both Maryland and D.C. have been hurt because companies are unduly losing business as groups opt to stay at Trump’s properties, in attempts to get in his good favor.
So far, this lawsuit has been allowed to move forward. U.S. District Court Judge for the District of New York, Judge George Daniels, dismissed a similar case on “lack of standing,” siding with Trump’s legal team’s argument that the claims do not fall within the interests of the emoluments clause and should be resolved through the “political process.”
In February, U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte made it clear that he wasn’t persuaded by any number of aspects of Daniels’s ruling. Of the prior ruling, Judge Messitte said that he thought Daniels was too quick to dismiss salient arguments that Trump’s competitors have legal standing to challenge the profits he’s making from his hotels, properties, and other business ventures… by virtue of being President of the United States.
The Maryland judge also implied that Judge Daniels had not elucidated his decision making process in a way that Messitte found satisfactory.
“He just said that in a sentence. There was no analysis at all,” Messitte said after Justice Department attorney Brett Shumate invoked Daniels’ opinion. “There’s very little analysis in his declarations. … I’m not really bound by even the logic at this point, with all respect to Judge Daniels.”
Almost 6 months later, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate attempted to argue that the president himself cannot be responsible for any foreign official’s “unilateral attempt to sow favor,”. which led Judge Messitte to ask:
“Another clause in the Constitution makes bribery a basis for impeachment. Are you saying that Congress could consent to bribery?”
This is why the Emoluments Clause is a thing, folks. This is why American presidents release financial records (including taxes) and place their assets into blind trusts. Trump, of course, has done none of that.
Let’s see how this plays out for him.