Posted June 11, 2018 2:34 PM

DOJ defends Trump’s foreign business links

By Tami Abdollah and Stephen Braun
Associated Press writers

GREENBELT, Md. — President Donald Trump’s hotel company did not break the law by doing business with other countries, a Justice Department lawyer told a federal judge today.

The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia have accused Trump of capitalizing on the presidency and causing harm to local businesses that compete with his Washington hotel.

Today’s arguments before U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte delved into the substance of the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” and what it means. The clause bans federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

Last March, Messitte ruled that the plaintiffs can proceed with their lawsuit against Trump’s Washington hotel. But he rejected their effort to target Trump Organization properties outside of the immediate area.

Trump administration lawyers say such business activity, including hotel room stays, isn’t an emolument. Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate today told Messitte that no federal official would be able to own stock from a foreign company that provides profits or collects royalties if the argument pressed by Maryland and the district is accepted.

But attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia have rejected the government’s stance.

“This case is about the president of the United States making an affirmative decision to use the government to enrich himself,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine told The Associated Press last week.

The case in Messitte’s court is one of three emoluments lawsuits against Trump.

Last week, a federal judge in the district heard arguments in a lawsuit pressed by more than 200 Democratic lawmakers.

A third case was rejected by a federal judge in New York and is now on appeal.

©2018 by Law Bulletin Media. Content on this site is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, or retransmitting of any copyright-protected material. The content is NOT WARRANTED as to quality, accuracy or completeness, but is believed to be accurate at the time of compilation. Websites for other organizations are referenced at this site; however, the Law Bulletin does not endorse or imply endorsement as to the content of these websites. By using this site you agree to the Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer. Law Bulletin Media values its customers and has a Privacy Policy for users of this website.