Rule of Law

Federal appeals court tosses Democrats’ emoluments clause lawsuit against Trump

A federal appeals court on Friday tossed a lawsuit brought by Democratic lawmakers alleging that President Trump’s overseas business dealings violate the Constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments clauses.

The US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC said a group of more than 200 Democratic lawmakers lacked legal standing to even bring the case in the first place.

Trump hailed the decision, calling the lawsuit “another phony case,” as he prepared to board Marine One for the first leg of a trip to a community college in Charlotte to speak at the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit.

“This is the DC Circuit and we just won the big emoluments case. I think it was a unanimous decision. This was brought by Nancy Pelosi and her group,” the president said.

“Just came out a few minutes ago, so I’ll be read it on the helicopter but it was a total win. This was brought by 230 Democrats in Congress on emoluments. it was another phony case. We won it unanimously.”

The suit was filed in 2017 by congressional Democrats, and was one of a trio of cases against Trump over the rarely tested emoluments clauses, which bar presidents from taking gifts or payments from foreign or state governments.

The Democrats charged that the president was illegally profiting from his hotels — especially the Trump International in DC, where many foreign governments have booked pricey events —  golf clubs and other businesses, where foreign governments have spent freely since his election in what the plaintiffs called efforts to curry favor with Team Trump.

The lawmakers couldn’t claim to represent the full House and Senate because the group didn’t include a majority from either chamber, a three-judge panel on the appellate court ruled, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Democrats charged that Trump couldn’t accept emoluments — things of value — from foreign governments without Congressional approval.

Attorney Elizabeth Wydra speaks at a press conference regarding a lawsuit filed against Trump for violating the emoluments clause
Attorney Elizabeth Wydra speaks at a press conference regarding a lawsuit filed against Trump for violating the emoluments clause Getty Images

The Justice Department argued the lawsuit was bogus and that Trump’s share of the profits didn’t count as an illegal emolument.

Friday’s decision reversed a trial judge who had let the Democrats’ lawsuit to proceed.


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