On Thursday, December 21, in New York a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, which accused him of violating the U.S. Constitution by using his hotels and other businesses to accept foreign payments. U.S. District Judge George Daniels’ ruling is the first to decide on how the U.S Constitution’s anti-corruption provisions apply to the wealthy businessman Trump.
This is a major win for the president as this issue has been looming over him since before he even took office. However, there are still several other pending lawsuits making similar claims.
According to Reuters, “In a 29-page opinion granting the Trump administration’s request to toss the suit, Daniels said the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring the suit. The plaintiffs included the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a hotel owner, a hotel events booker and a restaurant trade group. The lawsuit, filed after the Republican president took office in January, accused Trump of running afoul of the Constitution’s ‘emoluments’ clause by maintaining ownership of his business empire while in office. The emoluments clause, designed to prevent corruption and foreign influence, bars U.S. officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval. Trump has ceded day-to-day control of his businesses to his sons. Critics have said that is not a sufficient safeguard. The plaintiffs said they are legally injured when foreign governments try to ‘curry favor’ with Trump by paying to use his businesses, such as the Trump International Hotel in Washington or a high-end restaurant at a Trump hotel in New York City. The plaintiffs said this leads them to have lost patronage, wages and commissions.”
Lauren Ehrsam, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice said that the Trump administration “appreciates the court’s ruling.”
In his ruling, Daniels said that the claims made by the plaintiff were merely speculative. Fame and money were acquired by Trump well before he came into office, when he was contending in the hospitality industry, said the judge.
Judge Daniels wrote, “It is only natural that interest in his properties has generally increased since he became president.”
Daniels also said that Congress was welcome to something about the actions of the president if they saw fit. The judge said, “Congress is not a potted plant. It is a co-equal branch of the federal government with the power to act.”
By Charles Bernstein