An ethics watchdog’s complaint against President Trump for allegedly violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution has been allowed to move forward in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, of the District of Maryland, just ruled that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s (CREW’s) argument that Trump may have violated the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause — an explicit ban on government officials receiving gifts and emoluments from foreign governments — is legally valid.
Judge Messitte’s ruling was in response to CREW’s complaint that Trump is receiving gifts and emoluments from foreign dignitaries who book events and stays at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC in order to curry favor with the administration — thus creating a conflict of interest.
“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the President has been receiving or is potentially able to receive “emoluments” from foreign, the federal, and state governments in violation of the Constitution: They have stated viable claims for relief under both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses,” Messitte wrote in his ruling. “Accordingly, the President’s Motion to Dismiss is DENIED insofar as it pertains to the claims which the Court has determined Plaintiffs have standing to pursue.”
In a press release celebrating the decision, CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder called the ruling “a historic day for the Constitution.”
“We are honored and proud to represent the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia alongside Attorneys General Brian Frosh and Karl Racine as a federal court considers evidence of presidential violations of the Emoluments Clauses for the first time,” Bookbinder stated.
“Americans need to know that their president is acting in their interest and not in the interest of his private businesses. President Trump has refused again and again to separate himself from his business empire to avoid pervasive conflicts of interest and constitutional violations,” he continued. “A court has now decided that the Emoluments Clauses, put in place by the framers of the Constitution to protect against corruption, are broad and can be enforced in court. We look forward to working with Maryland and the District of Columbia to prove their case and stop these insidious violations.”
Judge Messitte is planning to issue a separate ruling soon addressing President Trump’s motion to dismiss individual capacity claims against him.
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.