Judge rejects Trump push to dismiss emoluments lawsuit

Win McNamee  Getty Images North America

Win McNamee Getty Images North America

One of several emoluments clause challenges faced by President Donald Trump received lift-off Wednesday with a federal judge finding that Maryland and Washington, D.C., have standing to sue.

But the ruling from Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland says the Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general who brought the case will have to focus it on the Trump Organization's operations in Washington. In addition to the foreign emoluments clause, which prevents the president from receiving gifts from foreign officials, the challengers have invoked the law's domestic counterpart, which bars states from giving the president any benefits. Last month, the president's attorneys said they had donated some proceeds from foreign governments to the US Treasury as an effort to defray public concerns about the president doing business, though ethics experts say the move doesn't clear the issue.

A judge allowed a case against President Donald Trump, accusing him of profiting from his Washington hotel while president, to proceed on Wednesday.

Messitte also found that Maryland and Washington showed likely injury to venues in which they have ownership interests that compete directly with Trump's hotel for high-end clients.

"A large number of Maryland and District of Columbia residents are being affected and will continue to be affected when foreign and state governments choose to stay, host events, or dine at the Hotel rather than at comparable Maryland or District of Columbia establishments, in whole or in substantial part simply because of the president's association with it", Judge Messitte wrote.

Messitte also noted that since the 2016 presidential election, "foreign governments have indisputably transferred business from the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton hotels in the District to the President's Hotel".

The lawsuit alleges that Trump's businesses pose multiple problems as long as he's president.

Trump's legal woes are mounting.

Trump, a wealthy real estate developer who as president regularly visits his own hotels, resorts and golf clubs, has ceded day-to-day control of his businesses to his sons.

Maryland and D.C. maintain that when foreign officials frequent Trump's Washington hotel, located a short stroll from White House, they are deprived of business they might otherwise have had.

A federal judge in New York City ruled in December that plaintiffs in a separate suit lacked standing; that case is being appealed.

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