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Judge allows part of emoluments lawsuit against Trump to move forward

Trump sued by 2 AGs
Trump sued by 2 AGs 03:18

A federal judge is allowing the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia to partially proceed in a lawsuit accusing President Trump of accepting unconstitutional gifts from foreign interests.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte ruled Wednesday that the two jurisdictions have legal standing to proceed in their lawsuit against Trump, but only with respect to his involvement with the Trump International Hotel in Washington. The judge agreed with the Justice Department to dismiss other sections of the lawsuit targeting possible gifts to the president from Trump Organization properties outside of Washington.

The two jurisdictions accused the president of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bans the president and other federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments. The attorneys general expanded the lawsuit beyond its original subject, suing Mr. Trump in his personal capacity as well as in his capacity as president. 

"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 Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state," the constitutional clause reads. 

A different federal judge in December dismissed a pair of lawsuits filed by a watchdog group and hotel and business owners, arguing a violation of the emoluments clause. 

The clause has never been fully tested in federal court and Trump's Justice Department attorneys have argued that hotel room stays do not represent "foreign gifts."

The Trump Organization, under public pressure about foreign payments, claimed in a pamphlet that it would donate any such payments from foreign entities to the U.S. Treasury. 

In February, a Trump Organization representative claimed the company has donated profits from foreign government patrons at its hotels to the Treasury, but declined to say how much. Watchdog groups like Public Citizen have cast doubt on that pledge to donate foreign profits, as the Trump Organization has declined to say how it will track such payments. 

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