Appeals Court Dismisses Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump

The Trump International Hotel is seen in Washington

The Trump International Hotel is seen in Washington

A federal appeals court on Wednesday sided with President Donald Trump, dismissing a federal lawsuit brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia claiming that the president is illegally profiting from foreign and domestic officials who stay at his Washington hotel.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal sued in federal court in D.C., and he's won several initial rulings, including that Mr. Trump's income from his hotels counts as emoluments.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had won "a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt".

While the appeals court decision was focused on the state attorneys general lacking standing to sue and avoids the substance of the alleged emoluments violation, its language and tone suggests a deep skepticism toward the merits of the case that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause. District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine has previously said that if the panel ruled against Maryland and the District, the legal team would seriously consider asking for a rehearing before the full 4th Circuit.

"The District and Maryland's interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the president is an appropriate use of the courts", wrote Judge Paul Va. Niemeyer, in the opinion for the unanimous three-judge panel.

They also said it was only "speculation" that those patronizing Trump International Hotel sought favor with the president.

The lawsuit alleges that, in failing to disengage from the hotel, Trump has made himself vulnerable to inducements by foreign governments seeking to curry favour, violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

Shortly before he becoming president, Mr Trump stepped back from running his company - the Trump Organization - however he still retains ownership of the real estate empire.

Trump also called the lawsuit "ridiculous", adding that he loses a "fortune" by being president.

The appeals court rejected the attorneys generals' argument that Trump's hotel diverted business from similar properties in their jurisdictions.

"The District and Maryland's theory of proprietary harm hinges on the conclusion that government customers are patronizing the Hotel because the Hotel distributes profits or dividends to the President". The provision prohibits federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

"The decision states that there was no legal standing to bring this lawsuit in the first place". Another federal court is still considering a lawsuit brought by Democratic members of Congress. "Today's pair of decisions by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is a complete victory", he told Reuters.

A federal appeals court in NY is also weighing whether to reinstate an emoluments case that a trial court judge dismissed. "We have not and will not abandon our efforts to hold President Trump accountable for violating the Nation's original anti-corruption laws".

What is the emoluments clause?

The appeals court noted that writs of mandamus "are rarely given", but then accused the lower court judge of issuing a ruling that was "not 'guided by sound legal principles, ' but by 'whim'".

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