A lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump improperly receives funds through his businesses from foreign and domestic leaders in order to curry favor from him, which was dismissed in December 2017, has been put back into place by a federal appeals court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, by a 2-to-1 vote, re-opened up an ethics complaint, brought about by a group of hotel/restaurant business and the non-profit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The original complaint had been dismissed before due to a lower court ruling that held the parties involved lacked standing to sue the president, but the appeals court ruled on Friday that they did indeed have a right to sue, Bloomberg reported.
The ruling is not a statement of guilt by any means, nor an endorsement of merit for the charges levied against Trump by the plaintiffs. Rather, it’s affirmation by the court that the suit can move forward, without interference from other courts stating that there’s a lack of standing issue.
We just won our Emoluments Clause appeal against President Trump in the 2d Circuit on behalf of hotels, restaurants, and restaurant workers injured by Trump’s unconstitutional and corrupt acceptance of foreign and domestic business. THIS IS HUGE!!!https://t.co/1vJE54uad4
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) September 13, 2019
There are two clauses in the U.S. Constitution regarding Emoluments, or gifts, given to the president. The first is in Article I, and it states that, “without the consent of Congress,” no officeholder in the federal government can “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
The second prohibition is leveled directly onto the president specifically, and deals with domestic concerns. It provides the president with a guaranteed income, and demands that “he shall not receive…any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
Trump has technically given control of his companies to his children. Yet he hasn’t removed himself from having a vested stake in those properties, and still benefits from them financially as head of the Trump Organization.
Many view the developments as increasing the likelihood that Trump will have to provide his financial documents, which he has long-guarded against making public, to the court and to litigants in order to defend himself against charges of improper profiteering from his private enterprises. A successful lawsuit could also, in theory, be used in consideration for articles of impeachment by Democrats in the House of Representatives.
The lawsuit suggests that significant damage has been done to restaurants and hotels that compete with Trump Organization properties, as foreign leaders and other domestic entities have an implicit understanding that patronizing the president’s companies could result in “a reward from him through official Presidential action,” according to court documents.