Appeals Court Dismisses Emoluments Case Against Trump, President Reacts

Cheryl Sanders
July 12, 2019

They said the court "failed to acknowledge the most extraordinary circumstance of all: President Trump is brazenly profiting from the Office of the President in ways that no other President in history ever imagined and that the founders expressly sought - in the Constitution - to prohibit", Frosh and Racine wrote. Trump tweeted that he doesn't make money but loses "a fortune" by serving as president.

Attorneys general from Maryland and the District of Columbia are decrying an appeals court's decision to dismiss their emoluments lawsuit against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, which they believe adds support to the notion that the president can benefit financially from his private business without substantial checks and balances.

The appeals court threw out other arguments that the state attorneys general had brought to claim that that they had standing to sue.

"The District and Maryland's interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the president is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases between the parties", said the opinion written by Judge Paul Niemeyer and joined by Judges Marvin Quattlebaum and Dennis Shedd.

The panel of three judges decided that D.C. and Maryland "lack standing" to continue with their case.

A separate lawsuit over Trump's business interests, filed by some congressional Democrats, remains pending in federal court in Washington.


"The court correctly determined that the plaintiffs improperly asked the courts to exceed their constitutional role by reviewing the President's compliance with the Emoluments Clauses", Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco said.

During the case, Trump's attorneys appealed a ruling from a District Court judge in Maryland who allowed the case to move forward on this exact issue. Unlike past presidents, he has retained ownership of numerous business interests, including the hotel, while serving as president.

Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow celebrated the outcome as "a complete victory".

President Donald Trump arrives to speak about kidney health at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Washington.

"There is a distinct possibility - which was completely ignored by the District and Maryland, as well as by the district court - that certain government officials might avoid patronizing the Hotel because of the President's association with it", the court continued.

"The District and Maryland's theory of proprietary harm hinges on the conclusion that government customers are patronizing the Hotel because the Hotel distributes profits or dividends to the President". These gifts often end up in the national archives or in the presidential libraries of the presidents who received them (in which case they would be on loan from the USA government).


In a joint statement, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine - both Democrats - said the judges "got it wrong".

All three judges were appointed to the panel by Republican presidents.

"The so-called emoluments clause has never been interpreted, however, to apply to fair value exchanges that have absolutely nothing to do with an office holder".

Trump opened the Trump International Hotel, just blocks from the White House, shortly before he was elected in November 2016.

The government lawyers also want the court to suspend legal discovery recently approved by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, which would force Trump-related entities such as his NY and D.C. hotels, Trump Tower, the Trump Organization, and Mar-a-Lago Club to turn over business tax returns, receipts and other documents.


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