Donald Trump’s enemies have gotten creative lately in examining his past for evidence of lawbreaking. But their creativity has its limits. In Richmond, Va. this morning, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the Fourth Circuit unanimously dismissed a lawsuit filed two years ago by the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia accusing Trump of illegally profiting from his continuing financial interest in the Trump International Hotel, located blocks from the White House. The suit alleged that he violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause barring presidents and other federal officials from accepting gifts or money from foreign and domestic government officials without congressional approval. The claims, wrote Judge Paul Niemeyer, were too “attenuated” and “abstract” to merit legal standing.
As if President Donald Trump isn’t facing enough challenges to his administration’s legitimacy, now he’s got another one. On March 28, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte granted standing to a lawsuit filed last June by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland alleging that the president, by continuing to profit from his Washington, D.C. hotel, is violating the constitutional ban on federal officials receiving gifts from domestic and foreign entities. According to Judge Messitte, his actions are causing “economic harm.” Yet evidence suggests that neither economics nor constitutional principle has much to do with this case.
Public officials in this country from the start have faced the pressure of being “bought and paid for.” Our Framers, recognizing the ever-present temptations of corruption, created safeguards to bar office holders from receiving presents, or “emoluments,” from outside parties. Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution, for example, … Read More ➡