There have been efforts virtually since the election by the left to try to find ways to take out Donald Trump or charge him with something. A lot of attention has been paid to the ‘Russia conspiracy’ effort which has so far not panned out for them.
But now another effort which has received less attention has also bitten the dust.
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a pair of lawsuits claiming that President Donald Trump’s failure to divest himself of his real estate empire and other business holdings violated the Constitution’s provision banning receipt of foreign “emoluments” while in public office.
U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels ruled that the two suits were fatally flawed because the plaintiffs failed to show injury directly related to the use of Trump’s properties by foreign officials and governments.
Daniels, who sits in Manhattan and is an appointee of President Bill Clinton, also said the issue was one that Congress should police, not the courts.
“As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant’s conduct unlawfully infringes on that power,” the judge wrote. “If Congress
determines that an infringement has occurred, it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to Defendant’s conduct. As such, this case presents a non-justiciable political question.”
The judge ruled that the plaintiffs in both cases 1) Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, along with a group of employees and owners of hospitality businesses and 2) attorney William Weinstein didn’t have standing to sue because they couldn’t show any traceable loss.
Daniels concluded that all the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. He also suggested that if foreign governments were patronizing Trump businesses as a result of his presidency, this wouldn’t amount to a violation of the emoluments clause unless the president encouraged them to do so to receive some benefit from the U.S. government.
“It is wholly speculative whether the Hospitality Plaintiffs’ loss of business is fairly traceable to Defendant’s ‘incentives’ or instead results from government officials’ independent desire to patronize Defendant’s businesses,” the judge wrote. “Even before Defendant took office, he had amassed wealth and fame and was competing against the Hospitality Plaintiffs in the restaurant and hotel business. It is only natural that interest in his properties has generally increased since he became President.”
In other words, Trump isn’t somehow giving them a government benefit for their patronage at his hotels.
And the judge ruled that ordering Trump not to profit wouldn’t do anything to help the plaintiffs business since competition would still be there.
The judge ruled CREW expending money to pursue the lawsuit didn’t qualify to count as a loss for standing.
The DOJ who argued on behalf of Trump welcomed the decision.
“The Department of Justice appreciates the Court’s ruling and its conclusion that Plaintiffs lack standing to pursue these claims in federal court, that Plaintiffs’ claims do not fall within the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses, and that Plaintiffs’ claims involve political questions that cannot be resolved in federal court,” said a department spokeswoman, Lauren Ehrsam.
Two similar suits remain pending in other federal courts. One, filed by the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia, is pending before a judge in Greenbelt, Md. The other, filed by nearly 200 Democratic federal lawmakers, was filed in a court in the nation’s capital. The judges assigned to those cases have not yet ruled on similar motions to dismiss them.
One attorney for CREW and the hotel and restaurant plaintiffs said they would almost certainly appeal.
This decision is not dispositive when it comes to the other cases still outstanding, although the judges may take it as instructive.
No doubt about it, but with the passage of tax cuts and the dismissal of this case, Trump is having one heck of a ‘winning’ week.
[Note: This post was written by Nick Arama]