emoluments clause

President Trump’s efforts to stop a lawsuit against him for allegedly violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution have officially failed.

On Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in favor of lead plaintiff Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and other plaintiffs in the House and Senate suing the president for allegedly violating a key provision of the U.S. Constitution.

Sullivan’s ruling comes just two months after U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, allowed a separate Emoluments Clause lawsuit filed by anti-corruption watchdog  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to move forward.

BuzzFeed News reporter Zoe Tillman tweeted the first page of Judge Sullivan’s order, which stated that Trump’s motion to dismiss was partially denied, and partially deferred.

The lawsuit, Blumenthal v. Trump, includes 200 members of Congress, according to Business Insider. The plaintiffs are seeking a civil action against President Trump for violating Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which is called both the Title of Nobility and Foreign Emoluments Clause, which states:

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 the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

In a June conference call, Sen. Blumenthal told reporters that his lawsuit is specifically addressing “the deals with the Trump organization around the world, the pattern of dealings by the Trump Hotel here in Washington with foreign governments, and in fact the appointment of a sales manager to deal with those foreign governments specifically.”

The Trump International Hotel, in particular, has been seen as a way for foreign dignitaries to curry favor with the Trump administration by booking events and functions there. In 2017, the hotel hosted events booked by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Kuwait. President Trump promised to donate all proceeds from foreign patrons of the hotel to the U.S. Treasury, but a January 2018 report by the Associated Press found that he had not done so.

Because the lawsuit is a civil action, Trump wouldn’t be criminally charged even if the court eventually rules in favor of the plaintiffs. However, plaintiffs could use a favorable ruling to justify impeachment proceedings.

 

Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.

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