A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Trump can be sued for unconstitutionally benefiting from his ongoing ownership of the Trump Organization. The ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reverses a district court decision that dismissed the lawsuit. It also breaks from a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, setting up a potential Supreme Court showdown.
Trump has been sued three times in cases alleging that he is violating the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, which are anti-corruption provisions that prohibit the president from accepting payments from foreign or state governments. The Foreign Emoluments Clause disallows the acceptance of money from foreign governments without Congressional consent, and the Domestic Emoluments Clause sets the president’s salary.
All of these emoluments lawsuits could have been avoided if Trump had simply divested or placed his assets in a blind trust as every president since Nixon has done. But he hasn’t — even though he said he would — because he apparently believes that the rules don’t apply to him.
The New York case was brought by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, as well as plaintiffs in the hotel and restaurant industry. They argue that, by allowing foreign and state governments — which have an interest in influencing the Trump administration — to spend money at the president’s hotels, he is unconstitutionally competing with the plaintiff’s businesses.
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