City of Washington DC and State of Maryland sue Trump over Emoluments Clause...investments.

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City of Washington DC and State of Maryland sue Trump over Emoluments Clause...investments.

Post by Original Quill on Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:11 pm

The New York Times wrote:Maryland and D.C. Sue Trump Over His Private Businesses
By SHARON LaFRANIERE, JUNE 12, 2017

In a new legal challenge to President Trump, Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that his failure to shed his private businesses has undermined public trust and violated constitutional bans against self-dealing.

The lawsuit, filed in a Maryland federal court, makes many of the same arguments in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a Washington watchdog organization in a New York federal court. But some legal experts said it rested on stronger legal ground because the plaintiffs were governmental entities, which could have stronger standing to sue the president.

The complaint opens uncharted legal territory. No state has accused a president of violating the emoluments clauses of the Constitution. One of those clauses bans federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments. A second prohibits the president from accepting economic benefits from the federal or state governments, other than his salary.

Because Mr. Trump continues to own and profit from his business empire, the lawsuit claims, it is unclear whether he is making decisions in the country’s best interest or out of “self-interested motivations grounded in the international and domestic business dealings in which President Trump’s personal fortune is at stake.”

It argues that businesses owned by Mr. Trump divert customers away from businesses the District of Columbia and Maryland either own, license or tax, harming those governments financially. For example, it contends, the Trump International Hotel in Washington competes with facilities owned or operated by the city’s government, including the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, its armory and its Carnegie Library. It also competes with a government-owned conference center in Bethesda, Md., and a resort in Prince George’s County, Md., that generates tax revenue for the state, the suit claims.

The suit alleges that the president has misused his position to increase patronage of his family’s hotels and the restaurants in them by foreign diplomats and others. Mr. Trump and his family members have frequented the Trump hotel, in the renovated Old Post Office, and room prices there have shot up since the election, the complaint states. Although Mr. Trump’s businesses pay taxes, the effect is a financial loss to the governments, it asserts.

In the earlier New York case, the Justice Department has asked a federal judge to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the emoluments clauses do not prohibit presidents from owning businesses. That lawsuit was initiated by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

In a 70-page brief filed Friday, the Justice Department also contended that even if Mr. Trump’s business interests did violate the Constitution, it would be up to Congress, not a federal court, to devise a remedy.

The department also argued that the plaintiffs in that case, who include a hotel and restaurant owner, had not demonstrated any revenue loss as a result of Mr. Trump’s businesses.

The Justice Department argues that the emoluments clauses should be narrowly construed to prohibit the president from accepting gifts or payments in his official capacity. It does not extend to ordinary commercial arms-length transactions like hotel stays, which benefit the Trump Organization, the family company now run by the president’s adult sons.

Some legal experts said the Maryland suit crossed a new legal threshold because the Maryland and District of Columbia governments are legally considered “coequal sovereigns” with the president, making them the strongest possible opponents in the constitutional argument over emoluments.

“It represents an important new front in the emoluments war,” said Norman Eisen, chairman of the board of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose lawyers are co-counsel in the case.

The complaint notes that in 1776, Maryland adopted its own ban on emoluments, and that the prohibitions against corruption written into the federal Constitution were inducements to Maryland and other states to support the union.

The plaintiffs are hoping to force Mr. Trump to release his tax returns should either of the lawsuits reach the discovery phrase. The Justice Department would most likely take such a fight to the Supreme Court, legal experts said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/us/trump-lawsuit-private-businesses.html?mcubz=1&_r=0

Should be fun.  I'll be following this one, particularly as the investment/money laundering-side of the Russian scandal develops.

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Re: City of Washington DC and State of Maryland sue Trump over Emoluments Clause...investments.

Post by veya_victaous on Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:14 am

I have wondered when someone is going to do this
he clearly has not divested himself of his personal fiscal interests

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Re: City of Washington DC and State of Maryland sue Trump over Emoluments Clause...investments.

Post by Original Quill on Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:27 pm

veya_victaous wrote:I have wondered when someone is going to do this
he clearly has not divested himself of his personal fiscal interests

Apparently the State of New York did it before, and the case was dismissed.  I don't know any details about that.

I would speculate that the major issue is standing.  In general, you have to show injury or a loss in order to have standing...otherwise you have no claim for loss.  If you look how the western states (Washington, Oregon and Hawaii) styled their standing issues in the travel ban suit, they assumed a representative capacity of their citizens, and put forth their citizens' losses.

That's what Maryland and DC posed as their standing in this latest, Emoluments Clause litigation: representing businesses that have lost transactions in the hospitality, and related industries to Trump hotels, restaurants and resorts, what with foreigners wanting to curry favor with him personally by spending money in his businesses.  Whether or not intended, the President must avoid such conflicts under the Emoluments Clause.

Such litigation per force must subpoena tax and business financial records--not only of Trump, but of Trump businesses--in order to enumerate losses.  We, as citizens of the US, will coincidentally learn all about any possible money laundering transactions, and loans to Trump enterprises from Russia, and perhaps Trump's interest in Rosneft Oil, Russia's state owned oil company.  Twenty percent of Rosneft ownership is unaccounted for, and inquisitive minds want to know.

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“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” KT McFarland to Thomas P. Bossert, Trump's aide.
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Re: City of Washington DC and State of Maryland sue Trump over Emoluments Clause...investments.

Post by eddie on Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:40 pm

Quill, could this mean that Trump could finally be de-throned? Sorry, but I do struggle to follow these stories at times. American politics makes me confused.

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Re: City of Washington DC and State of Maryland sue Trump over Emoluments Clause...investments.

Post by Original Quill on Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:41 pm

eddie wrote:Quill, could this mean that Trump could finally be de-throned? Sorry, but I do struggle to follow these stories at times. American politics makes me confused.

There are many dimensions. It may ultimately mean that Trump will have to give up his financial empire, or the presidential office. The Emoluments Clause doesn't care how you do it, or whether it's your intention, it simply says you can't accept gifts from status in the office. This means indirectly or indirectly.

Trump has a real estate empire out there...hotels, restaurants, resorts, office and apartment buildings, luxury homes, golf courses, tennis ranches, casinos, and hundreds of small businesses and properties. He must avoid not only directly profiting from those businesses owing to his status as president, but indirectly. Suppose there are riots in Istanbul in front of his property, and the Turkish government must call out police and fire brigades to calm things and protect his property. Emoluments includes allowances, expenses, etc. Is he not receiving a benefit as a result of his status in office? Did the crowd not gather there because he is president and the property is his? That's just one example.

The other great moment about this suit is it goes directly to Trump's income. That means subpoenas, and that means getting at his tax records and books. That goes directly to his dealings with the Russians, among others, and whether or not he is a foreign agent...perhaps violations of the Espionage Act.

It's not just about his hotels and casinos, etc., but did he receive 19.5% of Rosneft Oil to play Putin's puppet in Washington. To lift sanctions? To reduce the power and influence of NATO? To drive a wedge between the US and Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands? To alienate eastern Europe from the west, so as to permit the remaking of the old Soviet satellite system? This is precisely how the FSB turns businessmen into agents. Is Trump a Russian agent?

Potentially, this suit gets at all of this.


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Terrorism: "..many fine people, on many sides" ― Donald Trump, Charlottesville, 8.15.17

“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” KT McFarland to Thomas P. Bossert, Trump's aide.
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