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Supreme Court tosses emoluments cases against Trump

Republicans divided in post-Trump era
Republicans divided in post-Trump era 06:18

Washington – The Supreme Court on Monday tossed out disputes claiming former President Donald Trump was profiting from the presidency through his continued financial interest in his private company in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.

The high court sent the cases, brought by a government watchdog group and the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, back to the lower courts with instructions to dismiss them as moot, as Mr. Trump is no longer in office, and vacated the opinions from the 2nd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

First filed in 2017, not long after Mr. Trump assumed the presidency, the cases claimed he violated the Constitution's foreign and domestic emoluments clauses because of his continued financial interest and ownership in his hotels and restaurants, including the Trump International Hotel located near the White House. The provisions prohibit the president from accepting any gift, office, title or emolument from a foreign state or domestic officials without congressional approval.

The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and attorneys general argued that Mr. Trump illegally received emoluments in connection with his ownership of the Trump International Hotel, which was frequented by U.S. government and foreign officials.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement following the Supreme Court's action that their case demonstrated "no one — not even the president of the United States — is above the law." 

"We are proud that because of our case, a court ruled on the meaning of 'emoluments' for the first time in American history, finding that the Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting almost anything of value from foreign or domestic governments," they said. "This decision will serve as precedent that will help stop anyone else from using the presidency or other federal office for personal financial gain the way that President Trump has over the past four years."

Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW, noted that only Mr. Trump "losing the presidency and leaving office ended these corrupt constitutional violations and stopped these groundbreaking lawsuits."

"This important litigation made the American people aware for four years of the pervasive corruption that came from a president maintaining a global business and taking benefits and payments from foreign and domestic governments," he said in a statement.

This important litigation made the American people aware for four years of the pervasive corruption that came from a president maintaining a global business and taking benefits and payments from foreign and domestic governments. Only Trump losing the presidency and leaving office ended these corrupt constitutional violations and stopped these groundbreaking lawsuits."

While Mr. Trump turned over control of his company to his two oldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, after the 2016 presidential election, he decided not to divest from his company. The decision invited much scrutiny,  as ethics experts warned Mr. Trump would be profiting off of the presidency.

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