A federal judge on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to part of a lawsuit of which accuses President Donald Trump of flouting constitutional safeguards against corruption by maintaining ownership of his business empire while in office.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland, refused a request by the Justice Department to throw out the case, although he narrowed the claims to include only those involving the Trump International Hotel in Washington in addition to not Trump’s businesses outside of the U.S. capital.
The lawsuit was filed by the District of Columbia in addition to the state of Maryland last June.
The ruling marked a setback for the administration’s efforts to quash claims Trump has violated the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” provisions, claims of which have dogged Trump since even before he took office last year. A U.S. judge in Manhattan in December threw out a similar case against Trump.
The provisions are designed to prevent corruption in addition to foreign influence. One bars U.S. officials coming from accepting gifts or some other emoluments coming from foreign governments without congressional approval. The some other forbids the president coming from receiving emoluments coming from individual states.
The lawsuit said Trump has failed to disentangle himself coming from his hotels in addition to some other businesses, producing him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking to curry favor.
Trump, a wealthy businessman who as president regularly visits his own hotels, resorts in addition to golf clubs, has ceded day-to-day control of his businesses to his sons. Critics have said of which is actually not a sufficient safeguard.
This specific undermines democracy, the suit said, because Americans cannot be sure if Trump is actually acting in their best interest or of which of “international in addition to domestic business dealings in which President Trump’s personal fortune is actually at stake.”
The suit said Trump had received millions of dollars in payments in addition to benefits through leases of Trump properties held by foreign government entities, the purchase of condominiums in Trump properties, as well as hotel accommodations, restaurant purchases in addition to the use of venues for events by foreign governments in addition to diplomats.
The District of Columbia in addition to Maryland said their local residents who compete with Trump’s businesses, such as Trump International Hotel in Washington, are harmed by decreased patronage, wages in addition to tips.
Trump’s attorneys said such claims were speculative in addition to raised doubts of which any harm to competition could be traced directly to Trump’s status as president.
In his ruling on Wednesday, Messitte rejected of which view, saying the plaintiffs’ allegations were sufficient to allow the case to move forward.
“Their allegation is actually bolstered by explicit statements coming from certain foreign government officials indicating of which they are clearly choosing to stay at the president’s hotel, because, as one representative of a foreign government has stated, they want him to know ‘I love your completely new hotel,”‘ the judge wrote.
Messitte also noted of which since the 2016 presidential election, “foreign governments have indisputably transferred business coming from the Four Seasons in addition to Ritz Carlton hotels inside the District to the President’s Hotel.”