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DOJ Defending Trump’s Ability To Profit From Foreign Officials Staying At His Hotel

BuzzFeed: “The Justice Department argued Monday that President Donald Trump could continue to profit from foreign governments patronizing his hotel in Washington, DC, without violating the US Constitution, as long as he didn’t explicitly provide something in return. The fact that foreign officials were quoted in media reports saying they would spend money at the Trump International Hotel in DC in order to please the president did not matter, Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate argued. A payment could only be considered an unconstitutional “emolument” if there was an exchange involved, he said, either for an official act by Trump or a service similar to something an employee would do. “A federal officeholder does not violate the constitution by owning an interest in a company that may do business with a foreign government,” Shumate said. A federal judge in Maryland heard arguments on Trump’s latest effort to knock out a lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia and Maryland accusing the president of violating the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause and Domestic Emoluments Clause. The foreign emoluments clause states that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The domestic emoluments clause says the president will be paid for his service and “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” US District Judge Peter Messitte, sitting in Greenbelt, Maryland, ruled in March that DC and Maryland had standing to sue the president. In this next phase, Messitte will decide what an “emolument” is, and whether the word applies to the Trump hotel’s dealings with foreign governments and US agencies. Messitte said at the end of the two-hour hearing that he planned to issue an opinion by the end of July…”

See also via CRS – The Emoluments Clause: History, Law, and Precedents

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