Appeals court dismisses ‘emoluments’ lawsuit involving Trump’s DC hotel

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., as seen through a wide-angle lens.


By ANN E. MARIMOW AND JONATHAN O’CONNELL | The Washington Post | Published: July 10, 2019

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Wednesday sided with President Donald Trump, dismissing a lawsuit claiming the president is illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his luxury hotel in downtown Washington.

The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia involving anti-corruption provisions in the emoluments clauses of the Constitution.

The president is facing series of legal challenges related to his private business, including a separate lawsuit from congressional Democrats. The emoluments clauses at issue in the 4th Circuit case were designed to prevent undue influence on government officials but have never been applied in court to a sitting president.

Despite the legal challenges his company faces, to this point, Trump has been able to prevent the release of any private business information to the courts, leaving Democrats to wonder if Trump will be affected by any of the inquiries before he goes up for re-election next year.

In its ruling Wednesday, the three-judge panel said the attorneys general lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution when his business accepts payments from state and foreign governments. The decision — from Judges Paul Niemeyer, Dennis Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. — also stops dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities for financial records related to the D.C. hotel.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, both Democrats, have said they would consider appealing for a rehearing by a full panel of the 4th Circuit and would not be surprised to see the case reach the Supreme Court.

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